Economic development center of discussion at commission meeting

Dale Stewart, of Aberdeen, Carolina and Western Railroad addresses the commission. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

Two agenda items, focused on economic development in Mint Hill, took center stage at the town commission’s meeting November 15.

A public hearing was held on a petition filed by Albemarle Road Associates for a change of conditions. ARA filed the petition to create a list of by-right uses for industrial rail development for a 65-acre section of the Clear Creek Business Park.

“This is about industrial development from the standpoint of bringing jobs and tax base to the Mint Hill area,” said Dale Stewart, of Aberdeen, Carolina and Western Railroad.

The petition would be a step toward streamlining the process for new industry to come to the business park, separating an area for rail use only, and preparing that area for rail-based industries.

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Town clerk Beth Hamrick retiring after 32 years

Beth Hamrick readies her office for her retirement, organizing information for Michelle Farrar to take over her position as Mint Hill’s town clerk. PHOTO BY AMANDA WATERS

November 30 will mark the end of Beth Hamrick’s 32-year career with the Town of Mint Hill. Hired in 1980 as a receptionist, Hamrick’s role has changed over the years. She has served as the secretary to the town administrator, the Planning Board coordinator, secretary to the Board of Adjustment, and the deputy clerk. In 1985 she became the town clerk, the position from which she is retiring.

Throughout the years, Hamrick has seen Mint Hill grow, tripling in population. She has served with numerous commissioners and four mayors. She has served in the town’s last three town hall locations: the McEwen Shopping Center, the building on Matthews-Mint Hill Road, and the newest building on Mint Hill Village Lane. Hamrick took classes for various certifications, including the certificate of municipal clerk and master municipal clerk.

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Town Commission holds first meeting in new town hall

Raymond Hait, of the Military Order of the Purple Heart presents the organization’s plan to place a Purple Heart memorial at the Park on Fairview. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

 

Thursday, October 26 marked the first meeting of the Mint Hill Town Commission in the new town hall.

The commission heard presentations from either side of the “CONNECT Our Future: Vibrant Communities—Robust Region” program, which is a process for local government, businesses, and other organizations to create a regional plan for development.

The program is support- ed by a $4.9 million dollar HUD grant and a $3 million of local public and private matching funds, and affects a 14-county area, including Mecklenburg, Gaston, Stanly, Union, and Cabarrus counties. Lynette Rinker, mayor pro tem and commissioner of the town of Cornelius, gave a presentation on why Cornelius denied joining the program, citing federal control of local issues.

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Board presented with public arts ideas

The Board of Commissioners was approached by two organizations last Thursday about displaying public art in and around the new town hall building.  On the agenda at the last board meeting, Nicole Bartlett of the Arts and Science Council and Tony Billotto, Laura Sussman-Randall, Marta Brown, and Romie Mizell of Mint Hill Arts asked the board to consider representing Mint Hill through art.

Bartlett explained that many cities and towns install permanent pieces of public art for their communities.  Charlotte has numerous pieces, including the typewriter keys at Imaginon.  The Writer’s Desk, as it is called, is a monument to local writer Rolfe Neill.  She also offered examples from Rock Hill, Davidson, and other Charlotte locations, as well as types of art, including statues, plazas, photography, and tapestries.

Bartlett said one of the most important aspects of public art is the connection to the community; it is very local.

She outlined a basic plan for the creation of public art for Mint Hill.  Funding would come from the county, the Arts and Science Council would manage the project, and the design would come from a volunteer board of citizens from the town.

Mint Hill Arts representatives asked the board to consider letting them display art in the two gallery hallways in the new town hall building.  They offered some details as to how the town could partner with the organization for professional displaying and no extra work for the town.  The arts group currently displays work in the old town hall building.  Mizell presented professional hanging devices that would eliminate the need to put nails in the walls.  Billotto explained the intake process for their monthly art shows, demonstrating the professionalism and detail-oriented organization of Mint Hill Arts.  The all-volunteer group is made of dedicated artists who would jump at the opportunity to display local work in the new space.

“I got an the opportunity to go into the new town hall, and wow, was I blown away.  We have been looking for a new facility that was larger where we could really exhibit art the way it needed to be exhibited, where people could come in from the community and see it.  And here it was, two beautiful galleries built one above the other that had great lighting, a beautiful place to hang it,” said Mizell.  “That’s why we are requesting the opportunity to do this for you and for the community in this facility.”

They also presented the board with the idea of a permanent piece of artwork with the working title theme of Life in Mint Hill.  Mint Hill Arts and the town would ask artists to come forward in a juried show where the board was the panel.  The winner would receive the prestigious award of having artwork forever displayed in the town hall.  Billotto suggested the area around the grand stairway as a good location for such a display.

“Public art is the expression of the spirit of the community in which it takes place,” said Sussman-Randall.

The mayor thanked the arts representatives for their presentations and ideas, and said they will continue the conversation in the future.

The public is invited to get involved with this month’s Mint Hill Arts show during Mint Hill Madness.  Last Friday was the opening reception of the new show, but winners were not announced.  That’s because the public has not yet voted.  It’s a people’s choice show, and everyone is invited to cast a vote.  Visitors can see the gallery, located at 11205 Lawyers Road, Suite A, to gain an understanding of what Mint Hill Arts is, what local artists are doing, and how they can get involved.

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Mint Hill supports Kilah’s Law

Commissioners passed a resolution presented by the Justice for Coalition to support Kilah’s Law. The board supported the resolution unanimously. So far, eight other towns have passed the resolution, and they aim to present Kilah’s Law to the N.C. General Assembly.

The law aims to increase penalties for child abusers like Kilah Davenport’s stepfather, Joshua Houser, who is facing 44-92 months in prison after breaking the toddler’s clavicle, fracturing her skull, and causing severe brain damage.

Jeff Gerber of the coalition said Houser could potentially walk free within four years, while Kilah sustains life-long injuries.

“This sentencing guideline is an insult to mankind,” said Gerber.  “We feel strongly that Kilah’s Law should be in line with that of a pedophile, being 25 years to life.”

Patty Freeman, the first person to respond to the scene the day of Kilah’s injury, called it a “horrendous crime.”

“It falls in the same category as if someone hurt an animal.  Our children deserve to be put above God’s other creatures,” said Freeman.

The resolution reads: “Be it resolved that the Board of Commissioners of the Town of Mint Hill, North Carolina, hereby fully supports the spirit and efforts to create this law which will bring tougher penalties to those who inflict permanent debilitating physical injury to a child and encourages all citizens and elected officials of the State to join us in our efforts.”

In other matters:

  • The board approved the consent agenda: they accepted a contract with Rowell, Craven and Short to audit accounts for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012; they adopted an amendment of an increase of $52,000 in the General Fund for the 2013 budget; they authorized the town manager to purchase a street sweeper for the Public Works Department; and they approved the rescheduling of the public hearing on a petition for a text amendment to the downtown overlay code authorizing administrative variation of sidewalk width.
  • 10 students from Independence High School were inducted as Dream Team members, promising to abstain from drugs, alcohol, and violence.
  • For Constitution Week, the board presented a proclamation to a representative of the Clear Creek Militia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Mayor Ted Biggers proclaimed September 17-23 to be Constitution Week.
  • Nicole Bartlett of the Arts and Science Council presented on the topic of public art.  She encouraged the board to consider displaying a permanent piece of public art at the new town hall building.
  • Representatives from Mint Hill Arts presented ways to display local art at the new town hall, and asked the board to consider their ideas.
  • After heated discussion, the board voted four to one to accept the Planning Board’s recommendation to accept the petition requesting exception for front parking and screening for the future Mint Hill Police Department at 7151 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, also known as the old town hall.
  • The continued discussion on the Centralina Council of Governments’ CONNECT Project was canceled.
  • The board discussed signing an agreement with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmark Commission. Town attorney Kevin Bringewatt said he was concerned about the agreement not having an exit plan.
  • Town clerk Beth Hamrick announced her retirement.
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Moving day for Mint Hill Town Hall

The Mint Hill Town Hall made its official move last weekend to 4430 Mint Hill Village Lane.  Movers worked through the weekend to deliver newly ordered office furniture and boxes of files and supplies.  The town posted the moving plan on its website, stating the phone system could go down, but it made efforts to continue providing a high level of customer service to Mint Hill residents.  Monday was the first full operating day in the new building.  Staff will unpack this week and settle in.  Town Hall meetings will continue to take place at the old building.  The order for the new chairs for the assembly room is delayed and may not be ready until October or even as late as November.

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