It appears as though the Cornelius Town Board of Commissioners is set tonight to approve participation in the 14-county, two-state, "Connect Our Future" planning consortium, funded to the tune of nearly $5 million in a federal Housing and Urban Development grant money plus about $2 million more contributions from "private partners." That's nearly $7 million, mostly courtesy of the federal government, for what is presented to be a voluntary, information-sharing group that will exchange ideas about how the region should develop.
It seems that most elected officials in the north Mecklenburg towns and in Iredell County have no concerns over this, dismissing it as yet another feel-good, hand-holding, Kumbaya-singing group that will meet a few times a year, produce a document that will sit on shelves and never be heard from again. But one must ask, why in the world is a HUD even remotely interested in how a 14-county region that is mostly rural and urban develops? And why is the federal government involved in the first place?
I'll not venture to answer those questions here. Mine is but to question why. The timing of all this comes on the heels of Charlotte, the urban core of the region, once again bringing up the issue of city/county consolidation, a move that is presented as cost-saving, but actually dilutes the accountability of local government by giving the citizenry fewer and farther between elected officials to be held accountable to them.
Don't be surprised some year down the road when you seek a rezoning in your town and your request is forwarded by your local planning board, planning staff and town board to the regional consortium ... or higher than that ... for consideration.
Note: The Cornelius Town Board of Commissioners did discuss the reaffirmation of the memorandum of understanding regarding Connect Our Future Monday night but took no action. The board will consider the matter at an upcoming meeting after Town Attorney Bill Brown reviews and amends some of the language contained in the document.