MINT HILL – Candidates running for Mint Hill mayor and commissioner acknowledge that growth is coming. Some of them shared ideas during an Oct. 14 election forum for how the town should move forward in spite of it.
Commissioner Mike Cochrane said that former mayors and commissioners have chosen the right path, because it’s resulted in people wanting to come to the town.
“We do not create business,” Commissioner Dale Dalton said. “A lot of times people think we can control it, but we don’t have that control.”
Beverly Cannady believes town leaders can achieve smart growth by looking at development projects from the scope of how each will affect traffic flow.
Doubling down on community activities and involvement is one way to keep Mint Hill feeling small, according to Jessi Healey. She cited outdated plans as an obstacle to positive growth in Mint Hill. Feedback from citizens is needed.
Tony Long, who serves on the planning board, echoed Healey’s thoughts on reviewing land-use plans. He believes development is spurred by people wanting to live in Mint Hill. He said the town needs affordable homes for retirement.
Patrick Holton believes Mint Hill needs to offer more activities to keep people in town rather than leaving it. He specifically mentioned recreational activities. He wants to ensure police and fire are properly staffed and retained.
Mayoral candidate Karen Trauner would like to take a closer look at what developers can develop by-right (without zoning approval) once leaders decide if they’re going to allow smaller lots or apartments or stick with larger lots.
She said the parks and recreation department and the economic development committee could help stimulate community events and involvement to make Mint Hill continue to feel like a small town.
Brad Simmons, who is also running for mayor, made the distinction that growth doesn’t necessarily lead to higher taxes if controlled properly. He said it’s important to get people in the room to discuss planning beforehand rather than after decisions are made. This requires communication.
Commissioner Richard Newton, who is running for mayor, believes the town has done a great job of smart growth, noting the board has rejected some projects. Leaders need to be mindful of taxes, he said.
“It’s not easy sometimes but you can’t take everything that comes to town,” he said, noting he’d like to see a bit more shopping in town. “You got to be smart about it.”