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Cornelius News

Huntersville exits LKN Transportation Commission

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Feb. 17. By Dave Vieser. The Huntersville Town Board has voted to withdraw from the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission, leaving the future of the six-year old LNTC in limbo. The 4-2 decision was opposed by Commissioner Melinda Bales, who also chairs the LNTC.

The LNTC, headed up by former Mooresville Mayor Bill Thunberg, has been roundly criticized for its silence on the I-77 fiasco by members of the Cornelius Board of Commissioners. Thunberg, the only paid LNTC official, receives an annual salary of $80,000 shared equally by the four towns.

Just last week, for the first time in its six year history, the cooperative inter-county board directed its members to reach out and seek more guidance from the four local town boards which fund the commission.

It was too little, and way too late. Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla last year said there were enough votes to bail out of the LNTC immediately after the November elections which saw pro-toll officials like Town Commissioner Sarah McAulay and Mayor Jill Swain go down in defeat. (Separately, Swain is helping organize a new Huntersville Chamber of Commerce.)

RELATED: Huntersville’s new mayor speaking at Newsmakers Breakfast Feb. 25

The LNTC has come under fire in recent months for not taking an active role in opposing the controversial I-77 toll lane contract with Cintra/I-77 Mobility Partners.

At least one commissioner from Cornelius, Dave Gilroy, had earlier suggested that “the organization should be defunded now and re-chartered at some point in the future.”

Meanwhile, LNTC’s Executive Director Bill Thunberg said he knew nothing about the move by Huntersville to withdraw. “Frankly, I thought I was going to discuss Huntersville’s priorities with the board, and while I am disappointed in their decision, it is my intention to represent fully all members of the LNTC while the LNTC considers its options. There is value in regional collaboration and the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission remains committed to regional collaboration on issues around transportation and land use in the Lake Norman area.”

Created in 2009, LNTC’s primary role is to “study, investigate and advocate any and all transportation improvements in the Lake Norman area.” The commission, whose membership is officially comprised of the Town Managers and a Commissioner from Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville and representatives from the Lake Norman and Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce meets monthly.

Pursuant to the commission’s agreement with its’ member agencies, the towns must give three months notice if they seek to withdraw, meaning Huntersville’s decision to pull out will not be effective until June.

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