Sunday Afternoon in the Park draws in over 40 artists

About 40 local artists are gathering again this August for Sunday Afternoon in the Park.  Sunday, August 26 from 1 – 6 pm, Mint Hill residents are invited to join local painters, woodcarvers, textile artists, and more to celebrate local art and have a good time at the Park on Wilgrove.  Admission is free.

The first Sunday Afternoon was in 2005.

“At the time Mint Hill Arts did not exist and it was an opportunity to provide our local artists with a chance to display and sell their work,” said event organizer, Tina Ross.

The event grew out of an Arts and Science Council survey.  It’s another family-friendly event for the community.

A stage will be set up for a music line up, which includes Marnie Gallagher and Keven Linscheid at 1 pm, Noel Friedline at 2 pm, and Spotlight Academy, a performing arts group offering a variety of performances at 4 pm.

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Future PD parking may go against ordinance

When the transition from the current town hall to the new town hall is complete, renovations will begin on the old building in an effort to convert it into the new Mint Hill Police Department.  The plans show a secured parking area in the rear of the building, leaving no spaces for public parking.  The Board of Commissioners held a public hearing at their August 16 meeting on the request for parking in the front of the building, a request that goes against the town’s ordinance.  No one from the public spoke on the issue.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t support this because I feel like as a town we should be setting the example for our codes and ordinances and not granting ourselves an exception.  We should hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold other property owners to,” said Commissioner Tina Ross.

”I think this property’s unique in that we have very few downtown buildings that sit this far back off the road,” said Mayor Ted Biggers.  “With this being a police facility it creates a unique situation.  The building is being designed to have a secure, private parking lot in the rear.  That will be a gated parking lot.  Only the police will have access to the rear of the building, so for the public to gain access to the building and to have handicap parking, which allows the handicapped to park close to the main entrance, I’m going to support this proposal.”

The request was sent to the Planning Board, which met August 20.  The board moved to ask the commissioners to look at all the other options before allowing parking in the front of the building.

In other matters

  • The board accepted the treasurer’s report, the tax collector’s report, set a public hearing date for an amendment to the downtown sidewalk code, adopted a fee schedule, accepted the full settlement report for tax collections for the last fiscal year, adopted an order for Mecklenburg County to collect 2012 taxes, and adopted amendments to the 2012 and 2013 fiscal year budgets.
  • A resolution was passed ensuring quality water service.
  • A camping ordinance restricting tents and overnight camping in public spaces was adopted in an effort to deter activity related to the Democratic National Convention.  Commissioner Ross voiced concern about the ordinance’s affect on other camping plans, including Relay for Life.  The board intends to rescind the ordinance after the DNC at the September 13 meeting.
  • During the public comments a Mint Lake Village resident spoke in opposition to the 7-Eleven gas station and car wash plans for the intersection of Matthews-Mint Hill Road and Idlewild Road.  He was concerned about traffic, ground contamination, and diminishing property value.  Another resident asked the board to consider revising the noise ordinance, saying it was “outdated and way too lax.”  He suggested what Mecklenburg County has in place, and referenced the change Matthews is considering.  Toni Byers, who spoke at the public hearing on the rezoning petition to allow a fire station at the intersection of Arlington Church Road and Cabarrus Road, asked the board to not allow the rezoning.
  • The mayor and town manager Brian Welch are working with the Mint Hill Historical Society and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools regarding the old Bain Elementary School building.  They are setting up a committee to gauge community interest in saving the building.
  • The rezoning petition to construct the new fire station was approved.
  • The board appointed Charlie Burdick to the Board of Adjustment, and reappointed the Parks and Recreation Committee members and the Planning Board members.  The mayor thanked everyone who applied for these positions, saying they received good applications.
  • The board decided not to transplant the town’s evergreen tree when the town hall moves.
  • The fire department received 207 EMS calls and 74 fire calls in June, and 215 EMS calls and 83 fire calls in July, making the total number of calls for the year 1,891.
  • The town’s lawyer will provide a report on the Historic Landmark Commission agreement.  Mint Hill is the only town in Mecklenburg County who does not work with the group.
  • The next town hall meeting will be in the current building.  The new town hall is waiting for furniture.
  • In a closed session the board decided to purchase property at 11131 Lawyers Road for $50,199.
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Mint Hill working toward Aqua solution

Residents in Ashe Plantation and other Mint Hill neighborhoods have been working toward receiving better service from their water provider, Aqua.  Over the past few months we have reported the issues customers have with Aqua, including dirty, hard water and high monthly bills.  Ashe Plantation homeowners association president, Sharon Decker, has been working with Charlotte resident Stan Coleman to organize customers to work together for solutions.

Decker and Coleman have met with politicians, customers, town staff, and Aqua representatives.  North Carolina State Senator-elect of District 41, Jeff Tarte, N.C. House Representative, Bill Brawley, Mint Hill Mayor, Ted Biggers, Mint Hill town manager, Brian Welch, and assistant director for Clean Water for North Carolina, Katie Hicks, are working on the Aqua issue.

The Town of Mint Hill recently passed a resolution encouraging water providers to offer better services. It reads, “Be it Resolved that the Board of Commissioners of the Town of Mint Hill urges community well operators to address the concerns and expectations for the Town and its citizens by striving for exceptional industry-wide performance measures exceeding the minimum requirements set forth by State and Federal agencies; Be it Further Resolved that the Town urges State and Federal agencies to further regulate community well operators to insure those citizens who rely upon community wells are provided with clean, affordable water.”

Decker organized a meeting at the town hall September 7 at 7 pm.  Aqua president, Tom Roberts will be present.  Aqua customers are encouraged to attend the meeting.

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Analyzing charitable giving

National Public Radio’s Morning Edition recently aired a story about a report published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy regarding the geography of charitable donations.  Morning Edition looked at the data on a national level and found that lower-income Americans donate a larger percentage of their money than do the wealthy.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy explained that it obtained tax records from the IRS for 2008 and looked at charitable claims.  They only looked at data from households making $50,000 or more that year.  This study does not give the most accurate picture of charitable giving, but it can show general patterns of giving, both economically and geographically.

The top three most charitable states are Utah, D.C., and Mississippi, and the three lowest are Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  The study provides data by nation, state, and zip code.  So where does Mint Hill stand?

The zip code 28227 shows a total contribution of $23.6 million in 2008.  The median income was $49,888, and the median contribution was $3,144, meaning the percentage of giving per household was 6.3.  Mecklenburg County was at 6.7 percent, North Carolina was 5.9 percent (ranked ninth nationally), and the nation was 4.7 percent.

The study provides data for 28227 by income level as well, and the numbers support Morning Edition’s story about lower-income households donating a larger percentage.  Mint Hill households making $50,000-99,999 a year donated 7.6 percent of their income; those in the $100,000-199,999 range donated 5.7 percent; and those making $200,000 or more donated 5.8 percent.

Mint Hill’s neighbors in Matthews (zip code 28105) gave six percent of their income and a total 2008 contribution of $31.8 million.  Indian Trail (28079) gave 5.1 percent.

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Christmas tree will not move to new town hall

As the construction of the new town hall building comes to an end, the Board of Commissioners and Mint Hill residents want to know what will happen to the Christmas tree at the current town hall.  The tree has been part of Mint Hill tradition for over 25 years.

Town Planners Dana Clukey and John Hoard investigated the option of transplanting the tree and hired The Maplewood Company for an expert opinion.  Paul Yandle of The Maplewood Company said the evergreen was “a transplantable candidate” and offered a variety of ways to move it.  His equipment has moved trees up to 10 inches in diameter.  The town’s tree is 14 inches in diameter.  To move a tree of that size, Yandle estimates his equipment would give a 20 percent chance of survival with no guarantees, and the work would cost about $3,000.  To excavate the tree and root system by hand would offer the best chances of survival, 70-80 percent, and would cost $10,000-12,000.

Yandle also suggested the town leave the tree and purchase a new one for the new town hall.  He offered to find a tree between six and eight inches in diameter and between 16 to 20 feet tall.  It would cost $3,000-4,000 and would be guaranteed for two years.

“My unsolicited opinion, coming from more than 30 years of transplanting experience, would be that you choose to leave the tree where it is now and to consider having our company, or some other, furnish, properly plant, and warrant a completely new tree for the new Town Hall.  That would be the safest choice on many levels, probably the most cost effective, and the one option that would include a guarantee of survival with the investment made,” said Yandle in a letter to Hoard.

“While I would love to move the tree that we have to the new site, I’m not much of a gambler, especially with taxpayer money.  If that costs around $12,000 and it gets up there and dies, I’m going to be really disappointed.  My recommendation is to leave the tree in place where it is,” said Mayor Ted Biggers.  “I would take the recommendation to get a new tree.”

The Board of Commissioners decided not to transplant the tree.

The fate of the current tree is unclear.  As it stands, the tree will be fenced in what will become the police department’s secured parking area, which will not be open to the public.  The size of the tree may be a security issue for the police department, and may be cut down.

Clukey wrote in a memo to the Board of Commissioners, “We believe that the community will feel a loss if the tree were to be completely removed.  Residents and visitors alike have commented on the beauty of our great tree.  While there is a large cost associated with transplanting the tree, there will be advantages to linking the future town hall with the past, symbolizing a commitment to saving not only a large tree, but a community icon.”

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