New Town Board Gets Down to Business
The new Davidson team of commissioners held its first regular meeting on Tuesday, January 9, and mainly focused on transparency and planning. Settling into the commissioner chair for the first time since their election in on November 7 were Jane Campbell, Matthew Fort, David Sitton, and Autumn Rierson Michael. The only incumbent, Jim Fuller, and new Mayor Rusty Knox rounded out the lineup of legislators.
The evening began with a work session at 4 p.m. for discussion of two items presented by Planning Director Jason Burdette. Burdette noted that changes in the town’s watershed ordinance are needed in order to make it consistent with Mecklenburg County’s ordinance. Burdette also presented for consideration a new category of housing called “the missing middle.”
Board members chose not to discuss either matter in detail, but did instruct town planners to proceed with steps toward board approval of watershed changes. They deferred consideration of the missing middle housing issue until it becomes pertinent in consideration of the Comprehensive Plan process.
The regular 6 p.m. meeting included an opportunity for members of the public to raise issues that concerned them. A half-dozen citizens took the opportunity, and voiced their concern on interpretation of town fiscal obligations, development of South Main Street, and a new transitional housing program for the needy.
Public Information Officer, Cristina Shaul, presented a new Davidson app the town has purchased that enables citizens to more easily connect to town government news, resources, and information. Board members also got an update on the new Davidson Mobility Plan, which has received funding to launch the initial aspects of its studies. Project chair, Travis Johnson, said it will be a comprehensive examination of how people get around town, whether it be by car, bicycle, on foot, or in a bus. The committee soon will begin gathering data through informal interviews with citizens.
There was some discussion of the relationship between “Robert’s Rules of Order” and the “Rules of Procedure” currently used by the town when procedural issues arise. Board members voted unanimously to defer the issue until a future meeting.
Though it was the first regularly scheduled board meeting, board members have held a number of other meetings already. They met informally last Friday, and will hold a “coffee chat” at The Egg on January 22 at 9 a.m. They are also planning a major retreat January 25-26 at River Run. All meetings and retreats are open to the public.
Mayor Pro Tem Fuller said that one of the first items of discussion at the retreat should be the town’s “Core Value #5” which reads, “Davidson’s traditional character is that of a small town, so land planning will reflect its historic patterns of village-centered growth, with connection of neighborhoods, preservation of rural area, and provision of public spaces.”
Fuller said that value is a basis for all town development projects, and that the board should make it a matter of early and sincere discussion.
New commissioners voiced several times their intentions to involve the public to the greatest degree possible in board decisions. In addition to transparency, they vowed to conduct town government in a cooperative and respectful manner. Referencing the perceived rancor of the voting campaign and election, Mayor Knox announced that he wants to bring citizens together, and proposed community dinners as a means of doing so. He said, “It’s time for the disparaging comments to cease, and get on with doing positive things in town. Breaking bread is the best way I know of to bring out the peace pipe.”
The commissioners instructed town staff to plan for the dinners, which might begin in April.
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.