Saturday, April 30, 2011

Update: Eastway police station in Merry Oaks in Charlotte

From neighborhood advocate Nancy Pierce, through the Merry Oaks Google group:

"As most of you may already know, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has definitely decide to pursue the Merry Oaks sites for their new Eastway Division facility. At the urging of many neighbors, they reconsidered other sites for redevelopment, including Little Saigon (formerly Kate's Skating Rink). According to the City Engineering Department, no other sites are big enough and the Little Saigon site's drainage and other issues would cost an extra million dollars to develop.

"The city is still working out real estate issues, so the rezoning will not be proposed any time soon. It is impossible to predict when, but once the site plan, building design and rezoning details become public, the Merry Oaks Neighborhood Association will mobilize to get neighborhood input. MONA has not taken a stand on the issue. MONA Board members urge everyone to keep an open mind on the matter."

You can sign up for email alerts of rezoning petitions at Charlotte's rezoning site. Be aware that a new state law for government email subscription lists prohibits their use beyond the purpose intended. The law appears to have been signed by the governor on April 28.

Also, check out a Civic By Design forum planned May 10 to talk about how people can work with government and developers to save trees.

An alternative site?
Update on the proposed Charlotte police station in Merry Oaks

Friday, April 29, 2011

Saving Charlotte’s trees: A Civic By Design forum

Charlotte’s Civic By Design forum plans a meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10 at the Levine Museum of the New South to talk about how people can work with government and developers to preserve trees.

The event is free, with free parking at the Seventh Street parking garage.

The meeting planners list a series of events that have focused attention on Charlotte’s tree canopy, including the loss of the last remaining forest stand in Southpark and the removal of large shade street trees along Park Road for sidewalk replacement.

Closer to Merry Oaks and surrounding neighborhoods, the tree canopy has been whittled away through development at the intersection of Briar Creek Road and Central Avenue, with first The Vyne condominiums and then a nursing home.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police have also proposed a new police station at an entrance to Merry Oaks, on properties with stately willow oaks that are at least 80 years old.

No rezoning application has been filed for the Merry Oaks property yet.

Civic By Design, founded by Tom Low, is a monthly forum on growth issues in the Charlotte area. The Levine Museum is at 200 East 7th Street in uptown Charlotte.

Photo: Andria Krewson

Lush life: Last-minute plant sale in Merry Oaks

Late notice, but what an opportunity.

Merry Oaks gardener Meredith Hebden is divesting herself from some of her plants, with a plant sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30.

She has accumulated 350 plants for sale and is charging $5 to $30. Come early for best selection; come late for best prices. Location: 1911 Graybark Avenue.

She's also selling garden junque (yes, with a "que.") Here's a list of plants for sale. There's no price list for the junque.

Questions? Reach Meredith or Gary through the Merry Oaks Google group.

The photos? From me, in Meredith's garden, late summer or early fall of 2010. The toad lilies could be those in Meredith's list of plants for sale; she has listed the varieties of "raspberry mousse" and "sinome." All rights reserved on the photos, though Meredith and Gary can use them as they wish.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Plaza Midwood Harris Teeter planned

Plans for a new Harris Teeter store in the heart of Plaza Midwood have been released, with sketches released Tuesday night on the Facebook page of the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association.

From the Facebook page:
The proposed new Harris Teeter will replace the current Harris Teeter at 1704 Central Avenue, with a required rezoning and expected decision on the rezoning by September. Demolition is expected in 2012 with an opening in 2013. Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association will gather comments and concerns. Public meetings will be held, and an information table is expected at the Midwood Maynia event.

Images show a two-story building directly at the corner of the Plaza and Central Avenue, with parking behind the building. Entrances to parking would be from McClintock Road, Central Avenue and Nandina Street.

Also, the images show a partial green roof for the building.

From the images provided, here are some estimated numbers. It's early in the process (and the image details get fuzzy):
Parking spaces: 143 spaces, with 14 on-street spaces
Requested tree save: 22.5 percent based on square footage, including green roof
Grocery store size: about 45,000 square feet.

That size would make the store slightly larger than a proposed new two-story Harris Teeter at the corner of Providence Road and Queens Road in Myers Park, at 42,000 square feet. The rezoning application for that Harris Teeter at 1015 Providence Road was filed in May.

The location at The Plaza dates to 1951.

Background and further reading:

What's in Store, from the Observer, about the Myers Park store

The rezoning petition for the Myers Park store

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Appalachian photo contest: A chance to break some stereotypes

Do you have great photos from visits to the mountains? Do they reach beyond the usual stereotypes of the mountain area? Check out a photo contest to broaden the images of the Appalachian region, from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

You're responsible for photo release forms of people. Top prize: $500. Deadline: May 2. Photos must have been taken after May 1, 2008.

Photo: Street troubadour in Asheville near Pack Square. (Not good enough for the contest: lacks focus and quality, and I don't know this guy's name. If you know, let me know.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Talks continue on plans for future of Independence Boulevard

Updates from a couple of other sources on discussions about transit and development along Independence Boulevard in East Charlotte:

Background by Karen Sullivan of The Charlotte Observer before a Monday hearing in front of City Council:

And a post from Larry Shaheen at CLTBlog after the hearing.

If you have further updates, feel free to share in comments.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

By the numbers: A brief comparison of Alcohol Beverage Control Board numbers

The town of Mooresville allocates 12.5 percent of its revenues from its Alcohol Beverage Control Board to Iredell County for school purposes, 25 percent to the Mooresville General Fund for public parks and recreation and 27.5 directly to the Mooresville School Board.

After giving the state-mandated 7 percent to substance abuse education and 5 percent to law enforcement, Mecklenburg County allocates 47.5 percent of the remainder to the general funds of both Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte, some of which is returned to municipalities, and 5 percent to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Charlotte’s expanding Hispanic population: It’s about more than taco trucks

About 25 people gathered in a circle in a meeting room Saturday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Central Avenue in Charlotte.

Some wore cowboy boots and hats; others wore purple tights and hair. All cheered icons from the past, like César Chávez and Martin Luther King Jr.

They passed out papers that outlined 18 bills in the N.C. General Assembly that affect undocumented people and the businesses or educational institutions that work with them.

The meeting’s primary goal was to spread the word about the legislation and to support United 4 The Dream, a youth group connected with the Latin American Coalition.

Franco Ordonez wrote in The Charlotte Observer on April 1 about the youth group’s activities to mark the birth of Chávez.

The Saturday group plans another meeting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 9, in Concord, at the Hispanic Learning Center 418 Kerr St., according to the Mi Gente newspaper.

While the St. Andrews group was relatively small, the 2010 census numbers show the growing strength of Hispanic residents in Charlotte and in North Carolina. Their economic strength can’t be ignored.

During the boom years in Charlotte, neighbors in places like Merry Oaks often dealt with houses in which it seemed six, eight, or 10 Hispanic construction workers lived, working to build the new towers in uptown or the split levels in the suburbs. That boom effect was national in scope, according to the New York Times.

Now, in the bust years, the Hispanic people that remain have small businesses and children in tow. They’re looking for safe schools and access to higher education, and some are moving to the suburbs when they can. They have growing economic strength, and perhaps soon, political strength.

And in Charlotte, their message is spreading, with an online campaign to loosen zoning restrictions that target taco trucks. An online petition, “Carne Asada is not a crime,” has gathered 272 signatures.

Hector Vaca, of Action NC, is one of the organizers of Saturday’s meeting. He also said he started the taco truck petition.

But Saturday’s meeting showed that this goes beyond just taco trucks.

One bill discussed in Saturday’s circle was "The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” or HB 343.

It rolls in several provisions that require the use of E-Verify by governments, educational institutions and those who contract with them to verify the immigration status of employees.

It prohibits any undocumented person from taking a class at a community college or in any part of the University of North Carolina system.

It places barriers for anyone doing business with undocumented people, or educating them beyond high school.

So this time, it’s about much more than taco trucks, and about much more than just Charlotte.

About the map:

This slice of a census map from the New York Times shows Charlotte’s Census Tract 12, which includes the Merry Oaks neighborhood.

Green dots stand for white residents; blue dots represent black residents, orange dots stand for Hispanic residents and red dots stand for Asians.

On a micro-scale, the locations of dots are approximate.

Tracts directly to the east and southeast show greater percentages of Hispanic residents. One area near Arrowood Boulevard and Interstate 85, Tract 3804, shows a population that is 59% Hispanic.