HUNTERSVILLE, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – One of the area’s fastest growing towns held a public forum on Thursday to decide the future of what its downtown corridor will look like.
The Huntersville 2022 Downtown Plan has been in the works for months. On Thursday, a firm hired by the town presented three potential options.
It appeared many of the participants agreed that they wanted a walkable downtown area with more retail and dining options. It was the amount of residential development in the downtown corridor that had the community divided.
Those who have lived in Huntersville 50+ years remember a very different town.
“When I went off to college, there was only one stoplight and one fast food restaurant. And it wasn’t a chain, ”said Amy Hallman. “When I came back from college, I couldn’t afford to live here anymore.”
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Hallman is a co-founder of the group Save Downtown Huntersville, which has been vocal about preserving the town’s historic charm and limiting development.
But with the town’s population now topping 60,000, town leaders say it’s best to plan for its growth, which has previously been almost entirely located outside the downtown area.
“We are now started to see projects in the downtown area happening, so before things get too far out, we want to have the conversation with the citizens and make sure we’re moving in the right direction,” said Huntersville Planning Director Jack Simoneau.
The town created a Downtown Study Committee and spent around $ 150,000 hiring Charlotte design firm Shook Kelley to help with the plans. The three options presented at Thursday’s public hearing were “low,” “medium,” and “high-intensity” options.
“We already have 721 residential development houses approved for town. We just want the retail to come in, ”Hallman said.
Others, like former Huntersville mayor Sarah McAulay, want to see even more residential development. McAulay is also the chairman of the Downtown Study Committee.
“A lot of younger people with great talents and energy can add to Huntersville by living in downtown,” she said.
McAulay says the committee is divided by people who want to see high-intensity development in the downtown area and those who want to see things remain relatively as they are.
The committee and Shook Kelley will take the input from Thursday’s meeting and use it to create a final plan this summer. The final presented plan will go to another public forum in a few months and will eventually be presented to the town board for approval.