By Michele Dotson
On Thursday, March 27, at their regularly scheduled meeting, Mint Hill commissioners rejected the plan presented by BWN Investments, LLC to build a new 7-Eleven convenience store at the corner of Hwy 51 and Idlewild Road.
Residents of Mint Lake Village came out in large numbers, sporting matching I Love Mint Hill tee shirts, to weigh in once more on the decision to allow the construction of the 24-hour establishment, citing concerns over potential decrease in property values, increased traffic with the “chaotic” roundabout, and crime.
Mint Lake Village resident Trudy Cook, who spearheaded efforts against the development, also said the building would be too close to some of the homes.
“They measured it at 540 feet,” says Cook, “but a group of us measured it at 340 feet.”
Mint Hill resident Roger Bowden spoke out in favor of the store.
“I was taken aback by the angry attitude at the last public meeting,” says Bowden. “There won’t be an increase in traffic. The people who will stop there will be coming from I-485 and heading to Mint Hill like they always do.”
Bowden’s feels the 7-Eleven on that corner would help alleviate an already dangerous situation of drivers cutting across traffic to get to the other gas station.
“I see no compelling legal or moral reason why this should be denied,” he says.
Representatives from Sam’s Mart felt they addressed the residents’ concerns by scaling back the project and eliminating the car wash.
“We’ve been called outsiders and quick buck artists,” says former Mint Hill Mayor Robert Fox. “The truth is, the developer has had property and been a business owner in Mint Hill for over 25 years. He cleaned up the leaking fuel tanks from the previous gas station and razed the feed store that used to stand on that location that was infested with rodents. Does that sound like the actions of someone who doesn’t care for Mint Hill or its citizens?”
He went on to say that the 7-Eleven would bring jobs and tax revenue to the town.
He also said the ambiguity and lack of commitment to a land use plan made it impossible to meet the requirements, and questioned the town’s protocol after they received what they considered, a favorable recommendation from the Planning Board on March 17.
“How can any developer come to Mint Hill without a clear land use plan,” he says.
Mint Hill Town Planner John Hoard says he was a bit confused by the assertion that they had received a green light from the Planning Board.
“They were off on several of their facts,” says Hoard. “Especially their assumption that they could count on a particular vote.”
Frank McDonald, general counsel for Sam’s Mart, spoke to the commissioners about what he felt was an arbitrary act of government. He said that Mint Hill has no formalized zoning plan, but acted on “whatever it wanted it to be.”
McDonald also said that arbitrary and capricious decisions that are not based on a formal plan, have, in the past, been overturned by the courts.
After hearing all speakers, Commissioner Lloyd Austin made a motion to deny the request to build the 7-Eleven. It was seconded by Commissioner Mickey Ellington, and unanimously rejected.
Austin wished to briefly explain his decision.
“I voted against it because the neighbors don’t support it and we don’t need another gas station on that corner,” he said.
Austin also wanted to set the record straight by saying that Mint Hill does have an adopted land use plan that was approved in 2011.
Town planner John Hoard confirmed that Mint Hill indeed does have a land use plan that was approved in 2000 and re-adopted in 2010-11.
“We do have a land use plan that may have been somewhat vague,” says Hoard. “That corner calls for commercial use. Back in 2007, this same group came to the board and the plan that was approved was 33,000 square feet of retail space.”
This is the plan the residents of Mint Lake Village were happy with and the plan Cook says had 100 percent of their support.
“The Board has voted and made its decision,” says Hoard. “The developer feels that what was possible in 2007 no longer would work now. Maybe they can come back to the board with a scaled back version; start small and build over time.”
- A motion was passed restricting parking in Brighton Park to one side of the road. Town manager Brian Welch will work with law enforcement and fire department officials to make recommendations.
- Mayor Biggers has proclaimed April to be National Poetry Month and encourages Mint Hill Citizens to attend activities related to, and participate in the reading of poetry throughout the month.
- Commissioner Richard Newton attended Mint Hill Athletic Association Opening Day for baseball, as did Commissioner Mickey Ellington.
- Commissioner Lloyd Austin announced that Friday, April 4 will be the opening Cruise-In at Monroe Hardware. He attended the very successful Chamber Expo sponsored by the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce.
- Chief Tim Ledford announced that Coffee with Cops will be held on April 1st at 8:00 am at Jimmie’s Restaurant.
- Boy Scout Jack Rushing from Troop 447 out of Garr Memorial Church attended the Commissioners meeting to fulfill requirements of a communications badge. Rushing was welcomed by the Board and received a pin from the mayor.