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Davidson News

As growth issues build, three running for mayor in Davidson

 

By Kate Stevens. Mayoral candidate Laurie Venzon feels it is time for new leadership to guide future growth in Davidson, a town facing increasing pressure to develop at a rate she says many residents are unhappy with. “It’s important that we can re-establish trust with the residents and the citizen survey indicated not only do they think we’re not headed in right direction but they don’t believe the town is acting in their best interest,” said Venzon, 54, a former Davidson Board of Commissioner who served from 2007-13.

The subject of how town leaders should handle future growth is one that could define the Nov​. 7 election.

Several proposed mixed-use developments could attract new residents and visitors to the quaint college town and place increased demands on the municipality’s infrastructure and schools.

And, while the town’s new rural area plan, which has yet to go into effect, preserves several hundred acres of protected rural areas and designates plenty of open space, the re-zoning plan still allows some high-density living with very little designation for active space like tennis and basketball courts that are desired by residents, Venzon said.

For these reasons, Venzon says, citizens are wary of the same old political establishment. “I think it’s time to have a new direction, new leadership that will listen to the citizens,” said Venzon, who has worked part time for Vitex, Inc., a banking consulting firm, for the past 10 years.
Venzon faces challenger Rusty Knox, local real estate agent and son of longtime former Davison Mayor Russell Knox, and the incumbent, current Davidson Mayor John Woods who said in an emailed statement May 22 that he is planning to seek re-election.
Candidate filing ends July 21.

Several proposed projects in and near Davidson are in the works.

The proposed Luminous development would turn 19 town-owned acres along Beaty Street into a mixed-use community featuring 11 single-family homes, 21 townhouses, 132 condos, a boutique hotel, 28,000 square-feet of retail and restaurant space, a 6 1/2-acre public park surrounding an improved Beaty Pond and a learning center with classroom, seminar rooms and a small auditorium.

Developers are offering the town $1.65 million for the property. Some Davidson residents have opposed the project which they say would increase congestion and waste valuable green space.

There are some positive elements of the Luminous development, but ultimately, Venzon said the project is too much development for the property.

And, if the proposed Lake Davidson development, a 137-acre mixed-use commercial and residential site at Bridges Farm Road and N.C. 115 in south Iredell County, come to fruition, congestion will only increase, she said. “The two of those together, there’s going to be worse gridlock on North Main than we’re having now,” said Venzon.

Davidson spokeswoman Cristina Shaul said the Board of Commissioners discussed the Luminous project, otherwise known as the Beaty Street project, at its May 23 meeting. As a result of citizen feedback, commissioners asked project proponents to return with plan offering a reduction in density.

No future date was set on returning to the issue, Shaul said.

While Venzon said she supports balanced growth, she explained the town needs to re-evaluate the proposed increased density levels that were pushed 20 years ago when a commuter rail line was in talks to be constructed from Charlotte with stops in Davidson and outside Mooresville.
“We can’t continue to do what we’re doing without roads and schools being able to keep up,” said Venzon.

With that transportation plan seemingly at a standstill, any proposed high-density growth should be re-evaluated, she said. “I believe that we need to have a balanced perspective towards our growth and I think right now the level of density that we are trying to move forward with, given our lack of infrastructure, is not going to be beneficial if we continue to move in this direction,” said Venzon. Venzon and her husband, John Venzon, moved to Davidson in 1992 where Venzon worked as an executive with Bank of America for more than 20 years. After her retirement in 2006, Venzon served on the Davidson Planning Board for one year and then was elected to the town Board of Commissioners from 2007-13.
While serving as a town commissioner, Venzon said she was instrumental in revamping the town’s budgeting process, promoting public safety and ensuring the financial success of MI-Connection, a cable and Internet system servicing Davidson, Cornelius and Mooresville.

The towns of Davidson and Mooresville controversially purchased the communications company, then in bankruptcy, in 2007 and Venzon said Woods is responsible for saddling the town with the arrangement – including having to help pay for the company’s multi-million dollar debt.
“We have been paying $1 million a year in subsidies,” Venzon said. “I think it’s time for us to develop an exit strategy.”
There are three ways for the town to exit the partnership with Mooresville, Venzon said.
Mooresville can buy the town’s 30 percent share of the company, the two towns can sell the company or Davidson can sell its share to someone else, Venzon said.

Her husband, John Venzon, formerly served as chairman of the MI-Connection Board of Directors.

Even while the Venzons lived in Kansas from 2014-16, John Venzon would fly to Davidson for MI-Connection meetings. Venzon said she continued to stay involved in the going-ons in Davidson by watching Board of Commissioner meetings online, she said. The family returned to Davidson last year.

“One thing I’m going to commit to is much more direct and open form of communication and transparency,” said Venzon. “I believe we are supposed to be public servants. I think it’s time for a change.”

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