Thursday, May 31, 2007

School kids walk the neighborhood

Almost-finished first-graders from several classes at Merry Oaks Elementary walked the neighborhood to learn about homes -- for people and creatures like birds, squirrels, rabbits and insects.
Along the way, they learned about magnolia trees, gardenias, rosemary, pine cones and how to navigate the sidewalks on trash day.
Magnolia leaves make good bunny ears, some decided.
Some classes also got lessons in how to pour and smooth concrete from a crew repairing a sidewalk.
Kudos to all the teachers and assistants for walking on a hot morning. And thanks to all the neighborhood residents and workers who took a minute or two to stop and talk with the kids.
Thanks too to the garbage and recycling truck drivers for tooting their horns, waving and watching out for the groups of youngster as they traveled the streets.
More pictures at Merry View.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Crime note, Arnold and Draper
This place is not a crime blotter. You can go to Crime in Charlotte for that. But other places have mentioned this incident, so for those curious and as a caution to others, here's what happened May 24:

Police blotter:
Eastway Division
2432 Arnold Drive
Victim was in her front yard looking at her flowers. Victim turned around and was confronted by a B/M, 6', slender, young, black mask, and had a small gold gun. Suspect took her purse and ran. No injuries."

More information from WSOC, excerpted here:
"A woman living in one of Charlotte’s oldest neighborhoods was checking on her garden after work Thursday when a masked man came out of the shadows, pointed a gun at her and stole her wallet....

“I had just gotten home. I’d gotten out of my car and I thought, ‘I’ll go take a look at the yard,” J.C. Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt was in her front yard in Merry Oaks, not far from the Charlotte Country Club in east Charlotte, when she saw the man in the shade.

“I saw first that somebody was standing in my yard; secondly that he was dressed in all black; third that he had a black mask on his face,” she said.

Then she saw the gun.

The man called her over and demanded her purse. He took her wallet with her cash and bank cards, and then took off....

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department shows few incidents have been reported in Merry Oaks since the beginning of the year, although plenty have happened along Eastway Drive and Central Avenue outside the neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Briar Creek-Independence rezoning update

Here's an update from our neighbors in the Commonwealth neighborhood Google group. This is from a posting by Ted Cleary, about the May 21 rezoning hearing for development at Briar Creek and Independence Boulevard:

"There were several Commonwealth Park neighbors in attendance; one
spoke at the podium to express our consensus that we approved of the
project and its style, as shown in their architectural rendering and
especially based on the specified materials and details shown in the
construction drawing set they shared with us (which should eliminate
any down-grading in details due to 'value-engineering' that often
occurs in projects once construction begins). No neighbors, if any,
opposing the project had come forward in any lead-up meetings with
the developer, or at the re-zoning hearing last night.

The developer's attorney asked that Council approve the project last
night (rather than the normal procedure of a vote at next month's
meeting), due to delays already forced on him by incorrect
information from the Planning Dept.; one Councilmember expressed
concern about this break from procedure (perhaps because he wanted to
make sure nothing was being 'slipped by' them with a project he was
not fully familiar with); therefore, Council will vote next month
(approval is expected). You may begin to see marketing start before
then, but not construction till it's official."

Notes: Zoning committee is scheduled to meet at 4:30 on May 30 on the 8th floor of the Government Center to make a recommendation on the petition. That is not a public hearing, but the meeting is public. Full city coucil meets June 18 at 6 p.m. at the Government Center to vote on the petition, though that could always be delayed. Rezoning petition is at the rezoning site and it's Petition No. 2007-059.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Keeping connections strong
Listening to neighbors talking with neighbors through Google Groups is an amazing way to keep in touch with what's going on nearby.

It's almost as good as chatting with Mr. Bookout during his daily walks in Merry Oaks.

Smart politicians are active in these groups as well -- reading and posting as a way of staying in touch with local voters.

So the update: a German shepherd is roaming the Merry Oaks greenway, and neighbors are helping each other figure out whether the dog has an owner.

A zoning hearing on development at Briar Creek and Independence was scheduled Monday, May 21. At least one resident had signed up to speak in favor of residential condo development, but several residents are keeping an eye on the quality of the building plans.

Details at the Google groups for Merry Oaks and Commonwealth Park. The links were broken for awhile, but should be fixed. Please let me know if something does not work -- the tools can be hinky, to use a technical term.

And if you want to travel further away, check out a newsy blog by David Boraks for Davidson.

Closer to home, it's always good to check in periodically with John McBride at Under the Water Tower for Elizabeth news. You might find some local ice cream.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

More places to walk
The trails at Merry Oaks Elementary School are finished and open to walkers.
One trail loops around the field, dipping briefly into the woods. Six trail markers help keep track of your distance: one loop is .31 miles, or 550 yards.
Another trail connects Merry Oaks Road with the community woodland garden area of school property. It ends in a water spigot, a great place for dogs and people to take a break.
The project was a partnership of Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation and the school system. Community residents are welcome to take advantage of the planting space in the woodland garden area.
For more photos, go to Flickr.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Briar Creek condo update

From a neighborhood Google Group member, who attended the open house for the condos at Briar Creek:

The condos are 3 story walk-ups, ranging in size from about 700 sq. ft to 975 sq. ft., and ranging in price from $120,000 and up. And, it has one of the ugliest roof lines I've ever seen.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Briar Creek condos:

Community meeting with developers to discuss site plan for the rezoning of the
property at Briar Creek Road and Independence Boulevard.

Wednesday, May 2, 7 p.m., at WTVI, 3242 Commonwealth Ave.

The site is on your right when you're on Briar Creek, traveling from Central Avenue and before you hit the entrance ramp to go downtown.
Developers plan to build 28 residential condos. Current zoning
is for 16,000 feet of commercial use.

Site plan and other info available at Charlotte rezoning website.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wild school at Merry Oaks

Merry Oaks Elementary received its designation as a wildlife habitat from the National Wildlife Federation.
The designation certifies that the school provides wildlife habitats on school grounds, provides educational material and encouragement to students. The Merry Oaks Neighborhood Association helped with planting and cleaning up during the April Hands on Merry Oaks Day.
If anyone wants to build and hang bluebird houses, send a message to the Merry Oaks Google group.