Snow-delayed Ballantyne meeting arrives

The Ballantyne Breakfast Club’s Priorities 2014 Meeting will take place this weekend after being postponed last month due to poor weather.

The annual meeting, which will take place Saturday, March 15, at 9 a.m. at the Ballantyne Hotel, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy., will welcome representatives from multiple city and county governmental departments, as well as elected leaders, school officials and spokespeople from a number of local agencies. The event will give area residents a chance to talk with experts on a number of area topics in what organizer Ray Eschert described as a unique opportunity for Ballantyne residents to have almost any of their questions answered.

Eschert, founder of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club and a local advocate, expects topics to be varied on Saturday, where residents will be able to walk from speaker to speaker and ask anything they want. He expects many residents are likely to be interested in asking city and state leaders on hand – including Mayor Patrick Cannon and Charlotte City Council and N.C. General Assembly representatives – about what happens with Charlotte’s Chiquita employees and already-paid tax incentives now that the company has merged with a company in Ireland. The city and state agreed to pay Chiquita millions of dollars in incentives to move to Charlotte in 2011.

Eschert also believes Gov. Pat McCrory’s promise to increase teacher pay will be a hot topic, something former Ballantyne city council representative Warren Cooksey listed along with coal ash, incentives, budgets and tax rates as likely fodder for
Saturday.

“That said, there are issues that aren’t as heated right now that are still quite relevant for the year ahead for elected officials and staff,” Cooksey, who opted not to run for re-election last year, said. “One drum I’ve been beating for a while is the city’s zoning ordinance, which has been under study for a while now and may see major changes over the next year. This is much more significant than the on-off issue of a rezoning here or there because the ordinance, of course, governs what people can do with their property without a rezoning.”

But individual rezoning also likely will be a hot topic this weekend, with two big issues coming before city council in the near future for votes – an apartment complex near Endhaven Elementary School and a multi-use shopping and living complex at Providence Road and Interstate 485 – and recently approved zonings, such as the low-income apartment complex in southeast Charlotte.

And while the event gives residents a chance to grill officials they otherwise may never be able to get on the phone, Cooksey – who spoke at the meeting for many years – said it’s a good chance for officials to relay their message to residents.

“The Ballantyne Breakfast Club’s annual priorities meeting is a fantastic opportunity for the elected officials and staff who attend,” he said. “The club attracts informed residents who care about their city, county and state, and that gives elected officials and staff the rare opportunity to hear directly from the people they represent. It’s a big, multifaceted town hall meeting, and the fact that all levels of government are present means that area residents can easily determine who exactly they should speak with about the issues most important to them.”

Find more information about the upcoming meeting at www.ballantynebreak fastclub.com. Find a complete list of those attending at www.thecharlotteweekly.com by searching “Priorities attendees.”

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