WEDDINGTON – At Monday night’s meeting of the Weddington Town Council, residents and councilmembers will finally hear the results of the public survey on the controversial land-use plan.
Town officials have said the survey will help guide them as they construct the plan, which already has become a hot button topic that will carry over into 2013.
Mayor Walker Davidson, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Barry and councilmember Werner Thomisser all agreed the land-use plan was at the top of Weddington’s list of 2013 issues, along with the proposed water tower.
The land-use plan is redrafted every 10 years in Weddington, while the survey is a common way for town officials to gauge public opinion before working on changes to the plan and relaunching it.
For Davidson, he’s sticking to his guns when it comes to future development in town.
“My biggest thing is, when I ran for office, I supported a land-use plan approved by the citizens of Weddington and adhered to by the town council,” Davidson said. “The land-use plan expires in 2012 and one of the biggest issues for
Weddington is that now that the economy is back, developers are back. Commercial development has always been something Weddington citizens have said they would prefer to avoid and that they would prefer to be residential and very little commercial.”
The results of the land-use survey is something Davidson is anticipating to see if residents still feel that way.
“The good thing is that we were very deliberate with the survey,” he said. “On Monday night we’re going to get it live for the first time. Consultants are going to tell us the results in an open meeting. I can’t see what’s changed really, because the surveys we’ve done in the past have been the same.”
For his part, Thomisser said it’s difficult to say what residents feel about the land-use plan until the results of the survey have been revealed.
“It’s all going to depend on what those results are coming in on the survey and what direction we want to go in after that,” he said. “I don’t want to be premature.”
Thomisser said about 20 percent of people in Weddington responded to the survey. Though not a majority of residents, it’s still a large sample size to use in making future decisions.
“I’m not in the business of surveys, but I think that will give us a good crossection of how the people of Weddington feel, what’s important to them,” he said. “Weddington is different than any other municipality in Union County. Ninety-five percent of people 10 years ago wanted the town to preserve the small-town atmosphere. What the people 10 years ago told us is that they don’t want to be Pineville. They don’t want to be Waxhaw. They don’t want to be Wesley Chapel. They want to maintain the rural character and preserve the small-town atmosphere. However, maybe that has changed. I don’t know.”
Thomisser said he is interested to see what subjects the town will ask the council to address, saying that in the past residents have been interested in the possibility of a sit-down restaurant or a library. Thomisser also said he is curious to see the public’s opinion on the Rea Road extension and on parks and walking trails, like Marvin currently has.
The addition of a water tower to the town has also been an area of contention for residents.
“The water tower is something we need to get straightened out with the county,” Davidson said. “We have some neighborhoods with very low water pressure and the county recognizes the need because of that. We’ve had two sites selected but both have been rejected by Weddington. We’ve done what we need to do by saying it can go near the shopping center. The county now needs to find something that can work in that area.”
The proposed site for the water tower, according to Davidson, would be the Weddington Corner Shopping Center located at the corner of Providence and Weddington Roads.
Thomisser said he has not been satisfied with the water tower talks thus far.
“Union County Public Works has to give us site selections,” he said. “And I would like to see Public Works spend a little time discussing the need for a water tower. You keep hearing ‘low pressure’ but I don’t see any numbers. Public Works has not come to the town council and been specific.”
For Thomisser, the water tower is something that needs to be considered carefully.
“It’s a big investment, a huge water tower, not to mention the land the county has to buy to put the tower on,” he said. “And nobody wants it near their neighborhood. ”
Ultimately, serving the people of Weddington is the priority, Thomisser said.
“It’s not important what I think, it’s what the people of Weddington feel is important,” he said. “Our vision ought to be what the majority of the people of Weddington want their town to be. It’s very hard, but we’re trying to work on it.”
This is part of our look at what issues will be key in towns in 2013. For a look at Marvin’s issues, visit www.unioncountyweekly.com and search “Marvin 2013.”