Council reviews River District plan, but is there enough time?

River District timeline concerns some decision-makers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Beyond the well-publicized advertisements of rezoning, longtime residents and business owners feel they're in the crosshairs of change.

Peggy Smith is among them. She's owned the Dixie Grill and Grocery for the last 15 years.It's been a fixture in West Mecklenburg County for more than a half a century.

"I would like them just to leave it alone," she said." It is the last untouched section of this city," said Smith.

However, the mayor and city council may touch it a lot.

Assistant City Manager Ron Kimble explained the River District concept as a far-reaching development. "It's going to be infrastructure, parks, open space schools, work force housing," he said.

In short, Charlotte City Council will sign off on what could be called building a new town.

Crescent Communities and Lincoln Harris are the driving forces behind it, and decision-makers like Representative Lawana Mayfield are concerned about the financial obligation for Charlotte.

Mayfield told the council, "We're trying to get a clearer understanding of what the financial expectation is, or worst case scenario, what the financial implication with Charlotte is going to be."

On the government side of this venture, Mayor Jennifer Roberts expects the development to bring five to six new schools, an additional fire house, and police substation.

There's also talk of new bridge linking Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties.

John Autry, Charlotte City Council member, feels cars should be a no-no.

"My recommendation is that it would be pedestrian and bicycle only. That it not be built to accommodate motor vehicles, "he said.

This group has 21 days to figure out a development plan for a construction project lasting more than 20 years. Not every council member is comfortable with the timeline.

Greg Phipps is among those saying "not so fast."

"It's just getting to us right now, and we're having to digest it and does seems to be on an accelerated schedule," said Phipps.

Back at the Dixie Grill and Grocery, Peggy Smith isn't embracing change.

"We're happy out here away from, you know, from certain things," Smith said.

City Council is expected to vote on the project this coming November 21st.

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