Commissioners turn down CDBG funds

Residents oppose proposed development
Nov. 19, 2012 @ 09:06 AM

The Davidson County Board of Commissioners failed to pass a motion after a public hearing Nov. 13 to apply for a Community Development Block Grant that could have helped to fund a housing community on Hickory Tree Road. The developer — a Virginia-based company — said it would have been for senior citizens.
Residents from the area were outspoken against a proposal that would have allowed property to be developed for apartments. Commissioner Don Truell made a motion to set a date for a second public hearing on the issue, but that motion failed when five other commissioners failed to second. Cathy Dunn was absent.
"We had gone through a pretty controversial zoning for this property in the summer," said Guy Cornman, Davidson County planning and zoning director. "They were concerned about traffic, noise and other undesirable people living in the complex that could bring crime to the neighborhood and the devaluation of their property."
The proposal for the would-be complex by Traci Dusenbury from Halcon Companies, LLC, of Richmond, Va. also was met by resistance from Barney Hill, an outspoken opponent of block grant funding. He offered a familiar, cautionary refrain about the dangers of accepting fiscal help from the government.
"CDBG is borrowed money coming from the federal government, which is $16 trillion in debt," Hill said. "It is funneled through the state government, where it is only a matter of time until the General Assembly convenes to discuss their budget shortfalls. It diminishes local government and just becomes a conduit for the U.S. government funds."
The first public hearing allowed residents to speak about the potential use of funding that originated from the N.C. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The proposed housing is one of a series of N.C. Catalyst Projects designed to provide low and moderate-income housing statewide.
"They had a lot of pressure from the neighbors in the area," Hill said. "(Dusenbury) will tell you up front she's in the business of leveraging lots of money. They claim it's for elderly people. She said that's part of what they have to document, that it will be for people 55 or older. They've got this whole shadow industry going on — developers who stay in business chasing grant money."
Despite the failed attempt to procure CDBG funding, Cornman expects the land to be a source of contention in days to come.
"I can assure you the property owners out there will continue to entertain other ideas (for development)," Cornman said. "I don't look for that property to remain vacant."

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or