#ThrowbackThursday: May 4, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published May 4, 2006 and was written by Jane Rosinski.

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Mass Transit/High Density Development: Do they mesh in Matthews?

Balancing a desire for mass transit with its corresponding call for high density development is the dilemma currently facing Matthews Town Commissioners. Mayor Lee Myers questioned the council’s support for transit in Matthews after last months 4-3 vote to deny a high density apartment complex near the Sam Newell park and ride station.

The Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) emphasizes the need for Transit Oriented Development near transit lines, and Myers pointed out that if Matthews wants this technology, supportive action through zoning is essential. “If we don’t get the density to support transit, we might not get any,” he said, reminding the board that neither light rail or bus rapid transit is a ‘done deal,’ with much competition for federal funding.

Discussion about the Southeast Transit Corridor followed a status report from Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) officials. Recommendations to the MTC on alignments, station locations and technology are expected to be made in June, and Myers wanted to clarify the board’s stance.

Commissioner James Taylor acknowledged the board may have sent a mixed signal with its recent zoning decision, but asserted that the question of how high is too high for Matthews remains when it comes to living units per acre. Is 14 units an acceptable standard, or, once approved, would council learn that that still isn’t high enough to meed federal guidelines, asked Taylor. Commissioner Kress Query, while favoring light rail, rejects the higher density requisites. “I don’t think we have enough vacant land in Matthews to provide the density CATS wants,” Query said.

“I am not selling out the town for mass transit,” said Commissioner Paul Bailey, who rejects any apartment plan and urged supporters to use what’s already in place.

Although no action was taken, Myers reminded the council that while transit doesn’t drive everything, traffic continues to be citizens’ top concern.