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Cornelius approves Smithville plan

Houses on South Hill Street in the Smithville neighborhood of Cornelius.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
Houses on South Hill Street in the Smithville neighborhood of Cornelius.

The Cornelius Town Board of Commissioners voted 5 - 0 Monday night to approve the Smithville Revitalization Plan to redevelop the historically Black neighborhood. The Smithville Coalition wants to add a mix of new single-family homes, townhouses, apartment buildings, communal green spaces and new commercial properties.

“I’ve always said when I talk about Smithville that the county has some stake in this game as well and they’ve put forward some dollars to help with housing but when you think about taxes we pay — and we pay those taxes to Mecklenburg County — a lot of that money floats to Charlotte,” Town Commissioner Denis Bilodeau said. I’m happy to see some of that money come back to the Smithville community.”

Cornelius will use $3 million in American Rescue Plan funding in 2023 for the project to help improve the Smithville community.

“It’s important that people understand that this vote is a policy vote,” Commissioner Todd Sansbury said. “It’s not a funding vote. It’s not a specific housing plan. It’s just a policy to get this started and the town can only earmark money for certain items from certain funds and the town can legally only do certain things."

The redevelopment plan offers incentives for developers who choose to build in line with the city’s goals for an area.

“Will there be additional bumps? I would guarantee you that there will be, but I’m confident that with the coalition and a lot of other folks behind this we can get a reasonable plan put together to address all the issues you’ve heard tonight,” Bilodeau said.

One of those issues is traffic in the area with over 200 new housing units in the plan. It offers incentives for developers who choose to build in line with the city’s goals for an area.

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Woody is a Charlotte native who came to WFAE from the world of NASCAR where he was host of NASCAR Today for MRN Radio as well as a pit reporter, turn announcer and host of the NASCAR Live pre race show for Cup Series races. Before that, he was a news anchor at WBT radio in Charlotte, a traffic reporter, editor of The Charlotte Observer’s University City Magazine, News/Sports Director at WEGO-AM in Concord and a Swiss Army knife in local cable television. His first job after graduating from Appalachian State University was news reporter at The Daily Independent in Kannapolis. Along the way he’s covered everything from murder trials and a national political convention to high school sports and minor league baseball.