Residents in the Village of Wesley Chapel are fighting against a high-end shopping center that, if approved, would be developed across the street from Wesley Chapel Elementary School.
Nearly 2,000 people have already petitioned against the village’s land-use ordinance being changed to allow the shopping center.
There are 30 elementary schools in Union County and none of them sit next to or across from a shopping center.
“I think it says a lot,” resident Elliot Smith said. “I think that there’s a very good reason that schools aren’t across the street from this type of development. It introduces an unnecessary danger to our children.”
The shopping center would be just feet away at the intersection of Highway 84 and Potter Road. Residents, already concerned with traffic, believe the shopping center would make it worse.
FOX 46 Charlotte obtained an email from Union County Public Schools Safety and Security Director Jarrod McCraw where he told one resident, “I agree this is a busy spot for school traffic to enter and exit.”
NCDOT told FOX 46 Charlotte, “…we currently don’t have any funded projects to make any improvements at this intersection.”
Wesley Chapel’s planning board voted unanimously (5-0) to not recommend a land-use change to allow this shopping center. Despite those votes, petitioners worry that Village Council, which has the final say, will approve it.
“We want growth in Wesley Chapel but we want that growth to make sense,” councilman Mike Como said.
Como is the only council member who went on record against this project with FOX 46 Charlotte.
“Every email, every phone call, every person stopping me on the street, everybody who has walked up to the podium has said they don’t want this,” Como said. “Plain and simple.”
FOX 46 Charlotte reached out to all council members. Mayor David Kapfhammer did not comment. He is not running for re-election this November and, most likely, will not be in office for a vote. Jeannine Kenary referred us to the village’s planner. Bill Rodriguez said he had “no comment” on the project.
Councilman Paul Kaperonis agreed to talk to FOX 46 Charlotte.
“I’m fully on record with the Village of Wesley Chapel when I started here, pro-development, proactive development,” Kaperonis said.
Despite the nearly 2,000 petitioners, Kaperonis said he knows people who are for the project but are afraid to speak up about it.
“I know they are,” Kaperonis said. “They’ve personally come to me. I’ve seen them around and we’ve talked at church, we’ve talked wherever.”
Wesley Chapel Village Council has not set an official date and when it will vote on its land-use ordinance related to the shopping center.
The Moser Group, which owns the property across from the elementary school, has given council a presentation on how it would develop the shopping center.
FOX 46 Charlotte has learned a letter will be sent home to parents of students at Wesley Chapel Elementary School (from the P.T.O.) on Wednesday, Nov. 1 -- explaining to them who they can contact within UCPS and the Village in regards to this proposal.
FOX 46 Charlotte reached out to UCPS Board of Education member Kathy Heintel, who serves as a liaison between the school board and Wesley Chapel residents. FOX 46 Charlotte did not hear back by deadline.