News

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of April 15 through April 19, 2019.

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News About Town: Watch out for falling speed limits. Several roads in Matthews will have reduced speeds: Sam Newell, Charles Street, Sardis Road, and Weddington Road. Sam Newell at Crestdale Middle School will become a 25 mph school zone. Trade Street currently picks back up to 35 mph leaving town past the greenway crossing. The 25 mph limit will extend beyond the crossing to allow safer pedestrian access to and from the greenway. East Charles St is currently 35 in a portion of the road but will, instead, be 25 mph along the entire length, even after the name change to Tank Town. NCDOT suggested a change on Sardis Road to 40 mph, five mph less than the current posted limit. Speed limits on portions of Weddington Road will be reduced to 35 mph, making the length of the road 35 through to the county line. The City of Charlotte oversees this portion of the road.

 
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News Around Town: IRS scam calls seem to be on the rise once again. One of our readers wrote and warned us about them, then several other people said they’d had the same call in the past couple of days. We asked Officer Aycock with the Matthews Police about the calls and what to do. He graciously explained. The scam starts when someone calls (Red Flag 1) saying they’re from the IRS and demand immediate payment. They usually ask for it payment to be made on a prepaid card (Red Flag 2). The IRS likes to communicate old school, via snail mail. Odds are good they’re not going to be calling. They’re also not going to tell you how to pay, they want their money and aren’t going to specify mode of delivery. Think it could be the IRS? Hang up and call the IRS yourself.

 
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News Around Town: On the theme of continued learning, the Levine campus of CPCC (2800 Campus Ridge Rd, Matthews) is expanding their weekend course offerings, this fall. High-demand classes will be offered more frequently on weekday evenings, Fridays, and Saturdays to meet student need.

 
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News About Town: The Town of Matthews recently purchased 11 new Cardiac Science G5 Defibrillators for the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Program, thanks to a $15,000.00 grant from Novant Health. The older defibrillators these replace were heavier with outdated parts. “When Novant Health found out that we were looking at ways to start upgrading our AEDs, they immediately asked how they could help,” said Matthews Police Chief, Clark A. Pennington. “It’s such an overwhelming feeling when you have community partners that are willing to help provide lifesaving equipment to our officers. We all benefit when our officers have the best tools possible.” Novant stated it’s crucial for these machines to be available for police in emergency response roles. Accessibility and response time dramatically increase chances of survival for a person who experiences sudden cardiac arrest.

 
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News About Town: Want to learn more about town functions and have the time to invest on a weekly basis? Matthews 101 applications should be live shortly. Matthews 101 is a 6-week course that will teach you the ins and outs of local government. You’ll tour both the police station and fire station (no comment which one is more fun), learn about municipal finances, how streets are managed and maintained, and more. The deadline to apply is August 26, and while we usually wait closer to the day-of to post things, seats for this course go quickly. Have you taken Matthews 101 and want more? The League of Women Voters provide a Civics 101 course that covers county level operations.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of May 13 through May 17, 2019.

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News About Town: We’ve already mentioned the Budget Presentation and the Town’s motion to rezone several properties. The evening will be action-packed (read: long) at the Board of Commissioner’s meeting. There’s a public hearing for rezoning property adjacent to Butler High School, an update from the Planning Board followed by council members voting on (or deferring) a few rezonings, technology reimbursements, and discussion of a hairy issue about the Town taking over a private street at the residents’ request.

 
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News About Town: Wednesday, May 15, is Peace Officers Memorial Day. Sponsored by the National Fraternal Order of Police, Peace Officers Memorial Day pays tribute to officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty. John F. Kennedy signed the proclamation into law in 1962, and it has been observed nationally ever since.

 
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News About Town: Last night the Board of Commissioners had two Public Hearings for rezonings. With Zoning Application 2019-697/Harkey the Board unanimously voted to continue the public hearing at the June 10 meeting. For the town-initiated Rezoning Motion 2019-2 (downzoning three separate parcels), the Board talked heavily about finding a compromise. Lawyers representing two of the parcels spoke and requested the town cease the motion and work with the owners for a solution.

 
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News About Town: The Town Manager's Recommended Budget is available online. Of note is the addition four new positions in the police department, 24 firefighter positions as part of the 24-hour staffing model, and $20,000 funding for Red Brick Partnership (as of today they are not recognized in an IRS search). The public hearing for the budget will be Tuesday, May 28 at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

 
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News Around Town: Yesterday, during their regular Thursday meeting, the Matthews Kiwanis Club presented their first-ever Community Partners in Service Grants. As one member joked, the club gave away $10,000 in 45 minutes. In truth, the club worked for several years to raise money for their foundation, which was, in turn, presented to seven local nonprofits that "serve the children & youth of our community." Club leaders also recognized the work Mark Jones and Eran Weaver put into organizing and administering the grant process. Representatives from each group were present to accept the grant and explain how the monies will benefit their organizations. The recipients are: Bright Blessings, BSA Troop 118, COS Kids, Matthews Playhouse, Sur de Charlotte, Turning Point, Inc., and ZABS Place.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of May 6 through May 10, 2019.

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News Around Town: As the Highway 51 widening project moves forward, NCDOT recently sent out a postcard with a description of the updates they’re making to the design. Following the link on the postcard does not take you to the project; this is the correct link and this is the map. Some of the changes include: *

Realigned Lois St to create a signalized intersection at John, eliminating one home, and possibly the adjacent office building on West Charles. (Lois connects John and Charles near the Shell station.) *

Added a U-turn bulb on Sardis Road as an additional turn around point for those coming from the west side of Sardis Road. *

Added a smaller U-turn bulb (suitable for cars) at Deveraux. *

Added pedestrian crossover at Reid Hall Lane. *

Fullwood Lane shifted west, eliminating the home on the corner of Fullwood and 51.

 
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News About Town: Matthews Police arrested Jeremiah Elijah Harvey this past Saturday in connection with the car theft at the Comfort Inn by Windsor Square. Harvey was one of several wanted suspects featured in the most recent Find ‘em Friday video.


 
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News About Town: During Monday's (May 13) Board of Commissioner's meeting, the Board will hold a public hearing for three properties the Planning Department noted as "may not be appropriate from either a current or future land use perspective." These three properties under consideration include the Stronghaven warehouse on East John (I-1), the AMF Bowling Alley on Brigman Road, and a vacant parcel adjacent to the Woodspring Suites on Matthews-Mint Hill Road. The parcels are currently Industrial and Highway Business. The motion would downzone the properties to R-12 and R-15. Two properties are within the ENT zone, which calls for higher density residential than R-12 and R-15.

 
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News Around Town: Atrium Health and the Greater Charlotte YMCA have partnered to create the Wellness on Wheels program (@WOWCLT). WOWCLT covers territory all over the greater Charlotte area and “provides health screenings, nutrition education and lifestyle management to prevent high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases” for free. The unit will stop at Mount Moriah Church (381 Crestdale Rd., Matthews) from 3 to 6 p.m. on May 16 (and the third Thursday of every month at that same time). No appointment is necessary.

 
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News About Town: At 5:30 this Monday, prior to the regular town council meeting, Town Manager Hazen Blodgett will present his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2019/20. Creating a municipal budget is a lengthy process that typically starts in February when individual town departments generate a budget to meet their needs. Those budgets are then submitted to the Assistant Town Manager and the Finance Director, who advise the Manager. The Town Manager, as Budget Director, creates a recommended budget to present to the Town Council. As of November 30, 2018, the town has had a vacancy in the Finance Director position.

Losing Canopy, Gaining Density: Trees in Matthews

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There’s no doubt about it, the number of mature trees is a source of pride for Matthews. Mature trees increase property value, clean the air, and even increase feelings of well-being. With it’s dense canopy, Matthews has been part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA for 19 years.

As available land decreases, high-density housing is the urban planning fix. With that comes tree loss.

How does Matthews protect its tree canopy?

The Appearance and Tree Advisory Committee provides the opportunity for residents to work together and make recommendations to the town concerning trees. The group meets the third Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Matthews Community Center, and regularly presents their discussions and findings to the Board of Commissioners at Council meetings.

The Town has documents and mechanisms in place for environmentally-friendly growth as well. Tree Protection and Landscaping Regulations is a 23-page section of the Unified Development Ordinance sets standards and regulations to protect the tree canopy during development.

Depending on the zoning code, developers are required to save 5% or more of the tree canopy. According to the Unified Development Ordinance, R-12 and R-20 have the highest tree save at 20%, and HUC, C-MF, TS  have the lowest at 5%. In comparison, Charlotte has a 15% tree save for all commercial development. In residential areas, if the lot has 10% tree coverage then at least 10% must be saved. If the coverage is less than 10% but greater than 5%, then 5% must be saved.

In November 2017, after approval by the Matthews Board of Commissioners, the Town added a Payment-In-Lieu of Fee for tree save. If the property cannot be developed and maintain minimum tree save requirements, the developer must provide proof of hardship to the Town. Once approved, the In-Lieu of Fee is calculated using the tax value and acreage and set aside in a Tree Canopy Fund. The Fund is primarily used for the installation and maintenance of trees on public property. In the event any of the commercial tree save area cannot be protected, trees must be re-planted at 150 percent of the area removed.

Charlotte also has an In-Lieu-Of fee, though their program is slightly different and only available to commercial development. The Pay-In-Lieu monies are pooled and the City purchases wooded areas that will be permanently protected. As of 2016, 65 acres have been purchased, including 15 acres near the McAlpine Creek Greenway. According to one report (2016) the City averages $160,000 a month payment in lieu of.

Current Development and Trees in Matthews

Per town records and approved rezoning projects (found here), eleven residential projects have been approved between February 2017 and April 2019. The largest of those include:

  • Proffitt Dixon (Old 51/Matthews Mint Hill Road): Zoned ENT, 35.50 acres, +/- 7.06-acre tree save;

  • Bainbridge (Old 51/Matthews Mint Hill Road): Zoned R-12MF (CD), 30.752  acres, 4.79 acres tree save;

  • Four Corners Subdivision (Sam Newell and Keziah Road):  Zoned R-VS and SRN and R-15 (CD), 26.73 acres and 3.2-acre tree save;

  • Taft Development (Monroe Road): Zoned R-12 MF (CD) 21.450 AC and a committed 3.22 acres of tree save, though that did not actually happen.

Those four projects total 114.432 acres with a 18.27-acre tree save. Including the other projects, over 177 acres were rezoned.  According to plans, the approximate tree save for these projects is just under 27 acres.

How Do We Prevent or Correct Mistakes?

After Taft Development cleared the tree save area on Monroe Road for the future Residences Galleria, tree preservation has been a hot topic in town. How does Matthews enforce rezoning and tree save agreements?

According to the Town of Matthews’ Unified Development Ordinance (pages 2-12 and 2-13) violations of the tree protection or landscaping provisions approved by the Town is subject to any one or combination of penalties. Penalties are in addition to, and not in lieu of, compliance to all requirements and payment of any financial penalties. One such penalty calculates damages at two dollars ($2.00) per square foot for area damaged or destroyed, not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

Destruction or removal of a tree greater than twelve inches (12”) DBH without prior Town approval may be subject to a civil penalty. The amount is determined using the value of the tree as listed in the most current edition of The Guide for Plant Appraisal, published by the International Society of Arboriculture in conjunction with information provided by the ISA’s Southern Chapter.

Another penalty for not following the UDO by posting a Landscape Guarantee bond, having it approved, then failing to plant the required trees and shrubs as agreed upon with the town can incur a “fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00) per tree or shrub not installed, per day of ongoing violation. The fine is due within ten (10) days of the citation, and is not to exceed twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) per day of violation.” (UDO 155.214. E..4., page 2 - 14)

How do Matthews’ penalties compare to Charlotte? Charlotte's Tree Ordinance includes an additional criminal penalty for Tree Ordinance violations: “Any person who knowingly or willfully violates any section of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and may, upon conviction thereof, be subject to punishment as provided in section 2-21. This remedy is in addition to any civil penalties that may be assessed.” An additional planting requirement may also be assessed as a nonmonetary penalty.

It’s difficult to determine the percentage of tree cover pre-development from the site plans available on the Town website.

What is apparent? At the current rate of development in Matthews, maintaining the dense, mature tree coverage looks to be a difficult task.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of April 8 through April 12, 2019.

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News About Town: Prior to [the April 8] BOC meeting, the Board had a special meeting in the Jordan room to hear the results of a workload analysis for the Matthews Police Department. The Center for Public Safety Management performed the analysis. CPSM's report details 74 recommendations to improve the safety and efficiency of MPD. The full report is available here. The presentation from the meeting is here.

 
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News Around Town: As the weather warms and outdoor activities pick up, so will snake sightings. Many snakes are beneficial to have around, eating mice and other snakes. If you find one in your home or garage that needs removing, Carolina Waterfowl of Indian Trail will come to Matthews and remove it. Text and send a photo of the snake to 704-684-9247 for help.

 
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News About Town: The Mayor and Town Council recently sent a letter to the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) asking them to amend the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) to divide the Matthews portion of the NCDOT project into two portions (Trade St. to I-485 and I-485 to the Stallings line) and to delay work on the Trade to I-485 portion of John St. until after other funded and scheduled area transportation projects have been completed. Those projects include improvements to Independence Blvd., McKee Rd. Extension, Weddington Rd. I-485 ramp, among other projects. The CRTPO will vote during their April 17 meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in Room 267 of the CharMeck Government Center (600 E 4th St, Charlotte, NC 28202).

 
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News About Town: On March 29, Chief Clark Pennington attended a ceremony with regional community leaders to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Mecklenburg County. Hosted by the Mecklenburg Child Abuse Prevention Team, the ceremony was well-attended by many regional community leaders.
At Monday's Council meeting, Mayor Paul Bailey proclaimed April 2019 as Child Abuse Prevention month. Heather Johnson, the Director of Operations for Pat's Place Child Advocacy Center, was at the meeting and accepted a certificate for the proclamation.
Blue pinwheel gardens have been placed at parks, schools, and homes throughout the county, with several in Matthews. The web address on the accompanying sign has links to report abuse, and local resources for both prevention and healing.

 
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News Around Town: Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, in conjunction with the CMS Board of Education, decided to close schools May 1 and make the day an optional teacher workday. There will be no make up day for students. The decision came after nearly 2,000 CMS staff members opted to use May 1 as a personal leave day in order to rally in Raleigh for greater support for public education. Nearly 3,000 hourly employees may seek options from CMS so as not to be impacted by wage loss. For parents in need of child care assistance, Wilcox explained CMS “will do our best in this community to collaborate and coordinate with area partners to support our families.”

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of April 1 through April 5, 2019.

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News About Town: The Great Easter Egg Expedition begins this Friday, April 5, and runs through Sunday, April 21. In the past the Town has hosted an egg hunt at Stumptown Park, but this year they’re going bigger and better by hiding several thousand eggs throughout town parks (Stumptown, Squirrel Lake, Windsor, and Sardis Parks) and Four-Mile Creek Greenway (between John Street and Chesney Glen). The eggs will contain toys and the chance to win bigger prizes if you find a Golden Egg. Consider it a town-wide game of Gamete-mon Go!

 
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News Around Town: According to the NC Constitution Article IX, Section 7, “the clear proceeds of all penalties and forfeitures...for any breach of the penal laws of the State, shall belong to and remain in the several counties, and shall be...used exclusively for maintaining free public schools." In relation to recent news, the Article dedicates the fines incurred by Taft Family Ventures along Monroe Road to Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, rather than for replanting trees cut down within the dedicated tree save area. The voluntary fee provided by the developer (in the amount of $100,000) may be used for replanting or as the Town deems appropriate.

 
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News Around Town: Windstream Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for financial reorganization under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. Operations are expected to continue as normal, and employees will continue to receive their usual pay and benefits. Windstream is one primary internet service provider for Matthews.

 
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News About Town: The agenda is online for the Monday (April 8) Town Council Meeting. There are dogs on the agenda! At the beginning of the agenda is an introduction of retired Police K9 Castor, and later, under the Consent Agenda, the Town Council may approve the retirement of Police K9 Willow and sale to his/her handler. Also, the Entertainment District Small Area Plan Overlay is once again on the agenda.

 
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News Around Town: Niche.com, a website dedicated to giving insight on places to live, recently unveiled their ratings of suburbs around Charlotte. Matthews received #5 for most desirable Charlotte suburb, #23 for most diverse suburb, and #10 for best suburb to raise a family in the Charlotte area.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of March 25 through March 29, 2019.

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News Around Town: The ruby-throated hummingbirds are heading through the area, if not now, at least in the near future. April is really when they arrive en masse, but a few early birds are here to get the nectar. If you make your own, mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts boiling water, let cool and fill your feeders. As the weather warms and babies hatch, the newborn hummingbirds depend on insects for protein. Make sure you’re not spraying your yard and depleting their food source.

 
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News About Town: There was no reason to doubt the Board would approve the addition of a new K9 to the Police Department, but we’re here to make sure you’re left with zero doubt whatsoever. With approval byt the Board of Commissioners, Matthews PD officially welcomes Benny, a 15-month old black lab. He is a single-purpose pup (sniffing out illegal drugs), passed his certification, and has been in action with 2 arrests under his belt!

 
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News About Town: At Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting the board voted on facade grants for two early-twentieth-century properties on West John Street. The owner of the first property, 455 West John St., requested $2,500 toward a total exterior painting cost of $7,860. Other improvements include architectural work for an ADA compliant entry, which will be designed by Commissioner John Urban (Urban recused himself from the facade grant vote). The property owner of 501 West John Street requested $2,500 which will be used for replacement of damaged siding and repainting of the exterior.

 
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News About Town: At Monday’s meeting the Town Council discussed ways to increase tree canopy despite short-term loss through development. Suggestions for future consideration include:
•Consider increasing required canopy percentage in certain districts.
•Commit to using allocated landscape funds to plant/maintain a set amount of trees on town-owned properties and rights-of-way.

 
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News Around Town: On April 5 more than 300 realtors will volunteer around the Charlotte area for the 11th Annual Realtors® Care Day. The purpose of the event is to provide and repair homes for safe, affordable housing for those in need. A portion of the time will be spent in Matthews when the group partners with Habitat for Humanity Greater Matthews onsite for a new build.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of March 11 through March 15, 2019.

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News About Town {updated}: Matthews police have identified the body found on East John St. as Mr. Shawn Antonio Horton (DOB – 07/14/1972) of Charlotte, NC. His body was found in a ditch on the 1800 block of E. John Street (the outer side of John St. past I-485). A damaged silver and purple Huffy bicycle was found nearby. The victim seems to have died several weeks ago. As police piece together Mr. Horton’s last few days, they’re asking for tips and leads. If you have any, call Matthews Police Department at 704-847-5555.

 
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News About Town: Last night’s council meeting, in the absence of Mayor Paul Bailey, was led by Mayor Pro Tem John Higdon. It was a rapidly moving meeting with lots of Town business covered, though perhaps most surprising was regarding the recent land-clearing on Monroe Road for Residences Galleria, a 250-unit apartment complex to be built across from Family Dollar. During the rezoning process, the developer and nearby residents agreed upon specific areas for tree save. This week as land clearing began, approximately 200 trees marked to be saved were cut down. Taft Development Group is facing a $50,000 zoning violation fine from the Town and will pay a self-imposed fine of $100,000 in addition. Taft will also plant trees approximately 6-inches in diameter when construction is complete to repopulate the tree save area.

 
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News About Town: According to the Town website, the Trade Street widening at the culvert (where Trade forks off to Weddington and Pleasant Plains) is supposed to be complete this spring. At Monday night’s Council meeting, NCDOT representative Stuart Basham provided updates and a revised completion date. Currently, the contractor, Blythe Construction, has increased the size of the crew but is incurring liquidated damages of $1,000 per day. According to Stuart, the project is expected to be completed by Labor Day.

 
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News About Town: During the NCDOT updates at the Monday Council meeting, some conversation centered on the John St. Widening. Even the Town has been formulating their own approach, NCDOT has continued moving forward with design from Matthews to Monroe. According to Mayor Bailey, NCDOT and the Town are on the same page to delay construction on the portion from I-485 to Trade. The part of John St from I-485 eastward will continue with design and ROW acquisition. Now the Town must present this preference to the CRTPO (the municipal governing body for Charlotte area transportation) to amend the official STIP (a scheduled list of funded transportation projects). It’s a bureaucratic process to change the NCDOT budget in order to delay the downtown Matthews section.

 
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News About Town: Matthews residents have a new park option. The playground equipment at Rice Road Park, a 9.5 acre parcel at 2530 Rice Road, has been installed and is ready for play! The work recently finished, Phase I, included driveway access into the park, an on-site walking trail, one sidewalk connection from Rice Road into the park, playground facilities, parking lot, lighting, benches, and picnic tables, as well as landscaping. According to the Town’s Facebook page, Phase II of the park will include a picnic shelter, additional seating, and enhanced natural areas around the walking trail.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of March 4 through March 8, 2019.

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News Around Town: Gov Roy Cooper appointed Donald Cureton to Judicial District 26 (Mecklenburg County) on February 28. Judge Cureton, an incumbent who lost his District 26A seat to Judge Paulina Havelka in November, fills the seat vacated by Judge Louis A. Trosch, Jr. Judge Trosch now serves the Superior Court of NC.

 
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News About Town: Child Passenger Safety Seat Technicians will perform a safety check for children’s car seats tomorrow, March 6, at the Matthews Police Station, 1201 Crews Road. From 8 a.m until 11:30 a.m. certified technicians will check seat installation for free, no appointment necessary. Bring the vehicle, seat, and child, if possible. The process will take about 20 minutes. If you can’t make it on the 6th, Safe Kids Char-Meck provides this service every other week in Matthews.

 
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One Good Thing: One Good Thing: According to SafeHomes.org, Matthews ranks as the seventh safest city in North Carolina. Admittedly not a well-known website, the site used what appears to be a comprehensive methodology to arrive at their list. We know the Police Department is continually striving to provide a safe town for Matthews and it shows. Congratulations are in order!

 
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News About Town: At Monday’s Town Council Meeting, the Council will have a Public Hearing regarding a change to the Unified Development Ordinance. This change is to the  Approved Tree List and Shrub List (Zoning Motion 2019-1). Changes to the list include the addition of several native species of trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers and the exclusion of the most invasive species, such as Chanticleer pears, a cousin to the shallow-rooted, ornamental Bradford pears commonly planted throughout subdivisions of the 70s and 80s.

 
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News About Town: As we indicated yesterday morning, the Monday (March 11) night Board of Commissioner’s meeting agenda is available online.  Items of note include allocating funds for Conceptual Downtown Streetscape Design Work (approved at the last meeting for the amount of $41,250.00), as well as the formal initiation of Zoning Motion 2019-2 to rezone the Stronghaven warehouse property on John Street and Brigman property in the ENT District. There will also be updates on NCDOT projects, Red Brick Partnership, and Republic Services (the Town’s solid waste provider).

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of February 25 through March 1, 2019.

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News About Town: At tonight’s Council Meeting (7 p.m., Town Hall) Former Councilman Reverend Larry Whitley will be approved to become a voting member of the Planning Board. Larry has served on the Planning Board as an alternate member since February 2018. Prior to serving, Rev. Whitley served two years on Matthews Town Council and is the only African American elected to Town Council to date.

 
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News Around Town: Thai Tamarind (Matthews Festival) closed its doors this past Sunday after four years in Matthews. Tamarind opened as an Indian restaurant (in the same location) and, after several years, switched to a Lao/Thai street food menu. The restaurant was popular and known as a hidden Matthews gem by Charlotte-area critics.

 
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News Around Town: If it feels like we’re getting a lot of rain, well, we are. According to the USGS rain gauge at Matthews Elementary, Matthews has received 9.37 inches of rain since January 1. According to the National Weather Service Forecast, the Charlotte area averages 3.41 inches in January and 3.32 in February. If it's too early for math, we're already 2.64 inches above average. According to the site, August is typically our rainiest month averaging 4.22 inches.

 
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News Around Town: The North Carolina Youth Rugby Union will descend upon Matthews this weekend (March 2 and 3) for the 16th Annual Carolina Ruggerfest. Ruggerfest, the largest youth rugby tournament on the East Coast has approximately 1,500 athletes, ranging in age from 7 to 18 years, who will be taking to the fields of the Matthews Sportsplex. An additional 2,500 parents, coaches, and crew will be accompanying the teams, so if you notice a few extra thousand people in town, it’s #kindofabigdeal.

 
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News About Town: This past Wednesday, February 27, the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC), the policy board for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), approved going forward with the 2030 Plan,which includes the Silver Line light rail. Mayor Paul Bailey represents Matthews on the MTC.

The proposed Silver Line will run from Belmont to Matthews, ending at the Central Piedmont Community College Levine campus. The line will cost at least $1 billion and is projected to be complete by 2030.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of February 18 through February 22, 2019.

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News About Town: The opioid epidemic has grown in staggering proportions and hasn't left Matthews untouched. Matthews emergency service responders see the effects of this routinely, and thanks to Mecklenburg County Medic, the Police Department has a line of defense against opioid overdose. Medic provided Naloxone, an opioid "antagonist", and the necessary training for the entire Matthews Police force to safely administer it.

Officers, and their canine counterparts are in danger of being exposed to drugs during search and arrest. Not only will having Naloxone on-hand benefit those who have overdosed, but will be an aid in keeping officers (and police K-9’s) safe.

The Matthews Police Department urges anyone with an opioid addiction to please seek help immediately. For more information on addiction and available resources, please see the links below.

Opioid Crisis Information (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Naloxone Information (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
How to find Treatment (U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

 
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One Important Thing: If there’s more action on Wile E. Coyote’s Tinder account than usual, know that it’s because it’s coyote mating season. Coyotes are fairly common to the area, so watch out for your indoor-outdoor pets; mating season means the wild canines will need more calories than other times in the year. During mating season, with hormones running amok, they may be somewhat more aggressive than usual. Use precautions when outdoors, particularly at dawn and dusk.

 
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News About Town: The Planning Conference for the Board of Commissioners starts Friday. Pursuant to NC open meeting laws, the meeting is open to the public but there will be no portion for public comment. Items of note include: Properties of Significance with Existing “By Right” Zoning; Residential Construction and Overcrowded Schools; 4-Year Terms for Mayor and Board of Commissioners; and Hiring a Lobbyist. The full information packet can be found here.

 
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News About Town: The Board of Commissioners Agenda for the Monday, February 25 meeting was posted yesterday. The Board will revisit the Streetscape Conceptual Design contract. The Board will also hear what State Senate Bill 469 means for stormwater control on property to be redeveloped.

 
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One Good Thing: The Matthews Habitat for Humanity has expanded its reach to include critical home repairs. Moving beyond the scope of building new homes, this program is for Matthews homeowners who are current on taxes and payments and meet income criteria. The Critical Home Repair Program is for low-income residents who have repair needs around their home that create an unsafe or unhealthy living situation, such as a failing roof or necessary accessibility modifications.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of February 4 through February 8, 2019.

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News About Town: Tonight the Board of Commissioners will consider entering into contract with Bloc Design for streetscape improvement design work for the downtown portion of Trade Street through North End and a portion of the downtown area of John Street. The cost for design work has been estimated by Bloc Design at $37,000 and, if approved, may not exceed $41,250. Their suggestions might include sidewalk improvements, traffic calming measures, and a cohesive design. The planned design will function as a schematic for future reconstruction of sidewalks and aesthetics within the study area.

Previously the Board hired McGill Associates for a streetscape design. The 2016 renderings and document detailed designs and improvements that projected up to twenty years in the future. It is unclear why another design is being sought now.

 
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News About Town: Matthews Playhouse, in conjunction with the Town Parks & Recreation Department, and the Charlotte Post, are putting on a special performance of “Sweet Jenn” February 23rd at 7:30 pm. The play was awarded Festival Favorite at The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival in October 2018 and tells the poignant story of Jenny Butler, an emancipated woman in the antebellum south. Tickets are $5 and are on sale now.

 
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News Around Town: If you have a costly erosion problem at your home or business, the county may be able to help. The Urban Cost Share Program, a Mecklenburg County grant, provides funds for projects that will improve local water quality. Property owners throughout the county are welcome to submit applications for projects to stop stream bank erosion and address other water pollution issues. The grant may cover up to 75% of allowable costs (maximum of $7,500) for installation and implementation. More information is available here, and the application is available here.

 
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News Around Town: Over the past decade, Arts and Science Council funding has dropped 48% due to less giving (by both individuals and businesses). As a result, a study committee created by the ASC examined ways to keep the cultural sector funded and determined dedicated funding through sales tax is the best approach. ASC is asking for 1/10 of one cent from authorized-yet-unused sales tax (a portion of the quarter-cent increase approved by the NC General Assembly in 2009) as the dedicated funding. This use of sales tax requires approval and will be put to a public vote. Matthews groups that receive funds from ASC include, but are not limited to, Matthews Playhouse, Project Art Aid, and the Town of Matthews Parks and Rec department. Previous IRS Form 990s may be found here.

 
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News Around Town: On February 19, four Matthews churches - Matthews Baptist, Matthews Presbyterian, Matthews United Methodist, and Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist - are combining resources to host the next in a series of Community Forums on Racial-Bridge Building. WBTV's Tonya Rivens will moderate the discussion. Representatives from town staff, the Matthews Board of Commissioners, and housing professionals form the panel. Discussion will focus on the topic of affordable housing. Tuesday, February 19, 7:00 p.m., Brace Family YMCA, 3127 Weddington Rd.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of February 4 through February 8, 2019.

News Around Town: Seaboard Brewing, downtown Matthews craft beer brewer and wine bar, participated in Queen City Brew Festival this past weekend. Seaboard took just a little luster out of the Queen’s crown by bringing the Best in Show award home to Matthews.

 
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One Good Thing: Beloved Beacon writer Cyma Shapiro is a finalist in #QueenCityPodQuest, a contest sourcing WFAE’s next local podcast. Cyma’s podcast project, “Women Speak,” will be a weekly talk radio show dedicated to interviewing women in area (from the well-known to the unsung heroes), talking about real issues facing women in the #CLT. Voting begins today and runs through February 17. The proposal with the most votes wins. Please support Cyma and vote for “Women Speak”.

 
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News Around Town: Many of us leave limbs and bagged leaves at the curb for waste pick up. If pick up is delayed or if you have more yard waste than the town’s service collects (20 bags per week), you can take it to Compost Central (140 Valleydale Rd., Charlotte). This Mecklenburg County facility accepts leaves, grass clippings, and brush (should be unbagged or in clear or paper bags); clean pallets less than 5' in length; limbs and bamboo less than 5' in length; and logs over 5 inches in diameter. Curbside collection will not accept logs over five inches diameter. Other no-nos include food waste; yard waste with items contaminated with paint, plastic, or metal; tree stumps, large root balls, sod, or dirt. Root balls smaller than a basketball are acceptable.

 

News Around Town: Friday (February 8) is time once again for Carmel Baptist’s Joy Prom - a full-scale prom for the special needs individuals in our community. Partnering with other nonprofits (For Charlotte, Joni & Friends, among others) will allow the event to host 400 guests with an additional 600 volunteers to make the evening go smoothly. This Friday expect traffic delays at Reverdy Lane and Highway 51 between the hours of 5:30 and 6:45 for the arrival of participants.

 
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News Around Town: “Tank Town: A Good Place to Live” opens next week (February 16) at the Matthews Heritage Museum, 232 N. Trade Street. On display will be a year’s worth of research and findings about Crestdale, a portion of Matthews formerly known as Tank Town. The area, settled by freed slaves and post-Civil War freedmen. Learn how the area was settled by former slaves and freedmen after the Civil War, about the segregated schools, and the significant community organizations of the neighborhood.
Open Thursday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entry fee: $4 for adults, $2 for children 10 to 17, and Free under 10. The first Saturdays of the month are free.

#FiveForFriday: A Morning Minute News Round Up

This #FiveForFriday Morning Minute News Round Up is for the week of January 27 through February 1, 2019.

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News About Town: Tonight at 5:30 there is an additional Board of Commissioners meeting prior to the regular meeting at 7. Of note at the early meeting is a presentation on affordable housing in Matthews. The regular 7 PM meeting doesn’t have much on the agenda, so citizens with general topics to speak on may want to take this opportunity to have the Board’s undivided attention. Proposed Planning Conference items will be discussed and provide insight into Board concerns. Some of these items include implementation of four-year staggered terms (following public input), the use of 27 acres at McKee Road and Pleasant Plains, rezoning “by-right” properties in town, visual plans for the future Entertainment District, and an invitation to charter schools to explain their business model. The draft Vision Statements are also worthy of a read.

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We asked our intern, Sterling, to summarize Monday’s Town Council meeting from a student’s perspective. This morning’s News About Town is her view of small-town government in Matthews (Or BOC meeting):

I walked into a room with a large crest of Matthews, NC at the head with flags adorning each side. The mayor, Paul Bailey, was seated in the middle of a large dais with the board of commissioners circling around; I never knew that all of this was right above the Matthews library, where I had been going my whole life. The crowd included everyone from firefighters who were there in support of Kerry Ernsberger, Matthew’s Employee of the Year, to a boy scout troop, who were working on their communications badge. I was surprised that the atmosphere of the meeting was both formal and casual being that it followed an ordered agenda but with the occasional joke from one of the commissioners. It was thought-provoking to see what topics were being discussed, even if most were passed unanimously; it ranged from the general issue of the effects of traffic on Matthews to the more abstract approval of Matthew’s new “vision statement” for the future. From the concerns raised here in Matthews, I could make a connection to environmental, safety, and political concerns locally as well as nationally, despite it only being considered a small town government. At the end, I shook hands with the mayor and the assistant town manager, which is something I never envisioned myself doing as a high school student.

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News About Town: At the Council meeting this past Monday, Chief Clark Pennington asked the Board of Commissioners to approve the Police Department’s pursuit of additional funding through the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) grant program. In recent years the growth of the department hasn’t kept up with the growth of the town, and valuable police resources are being allocated to crash response rather than crime prevention. Currently, the department has 61 full-time police officers and two reserve officers (one school resource officer serves full-time at Carmel Christian School that is budget neutral). The grant would provide significant budget relief for the addition of three patrol officers and one corporal. The Board of Commissioners approved applying for the GHSP Grant.

News Around Town: Property tax valuations are a hot topic all over the county. If you’re still in sticker shock, you’re in good company: the median rate increase for residential property is 43 percent while commercial property owners saw a median increase of 77 percent. Yesterday Norah explained the who, what, and when of the new numbers. County Manager Dena Diorio posted a video to explain what the new values mean.

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News Around Town:The Environmental Advisory Board presented at Monday's Board of Commissioners meeting. EAB Board Chair Gordon Miller provided several updates to Commissioners, including the introduction of an EAB created a pamphlet for builders and landowners with suggestions for more environmentally friendly development. Some examples include strategically planted trees, re-use of rainwater, and on-site composting.

New Property Tax Valuations

Mecklenburg County posted new property tax valuations on Friday, continuing the reassessment process that has been underway since 2017. Property owners can expect to see an increase in both their assessed value and in their tax rate. The Matthews Board of Commissioners and the Mecklenburg County Commissioners both approved tax increases in 2018.

The County Commission increased property taxes by ¾ of a cent. Mecklenburg county’s website provides details on the FY2019 budget and a description of where the money will be allocated here. The 2019 budget was approved in June of 2018 by Commissioners Trevor Fuller, Ella Scarborough, Pat Cotham, Jim Puckett, Vilma Leake, George Dunlap, Dumont Clarke, Matthew Ridenhour, and Bill James.

Matthews approved their 2019 budget on June 11th, 2018, to include a 1.5 cent/$100 in value tax increase. Town Manager Hazen Blodgett’s budget presentation estimated the increase would raise town revenue by $525,000 based on 2011 property values. In the 2019-2020 budget, assuming the Board doesn’t approve any additional tax increase, that number will still be significantly higher. For example, a property in Matthews formerly assessed at $213,600 generated $726.24 in 2017-18 and $758.28 in 2018-19. With a new appraised value of $391,000 the property owners will see their Matthews taxes increase in 2019-20 to $1,388.

The Matthews Board of Commissioners received a presentation from County Tax Assessor Ken Joyner in October of 2017 detailing the valuation process and recommended at that time that property owners review their property information and file a dispute if necessary. The County had created a new system for disputes available through the assessors’ web page. Although the valuation process is over with the release of new values, disputes can still be filed and changes to information requested.

2013-2014 Tax Rate: .3175/100
2014-2015 Tax Rate: .3175/100
2015-2016 Tax Rate: .34/100
2016-2017 Tax Rate: .34/100
2017-2018 Tax rate: .34/100
2018-2019 Tax rate: .355/100