Rick Zoerb, owner of Lake Norman Hyundai and Lake Norman Infiniti, was hoping for a business friendly decision at the March 4 Cornelius Town Board meeting. Instead, he got a delay.
Zoerb wants the board to approve rezoning plans that would allow for expansion of his Hyundai dealership directly off Interstate 77 on Chartwell Center Drive.
Board members didn't approve or reject the plan, but deferred the conversation to the March 18 board meeting, leaving the public hearing open.
“I have to say I am disappointed in the architecture,” said Cornelius Mayor Lynette Rinker. “I was hoping for more Infiniti and I got more Hyundai.”
Rinker said one of her favorite buildings in Cornelius, from an architectural standpoint, is Zoerb’s Infiniti dealership.
Most of the commissioners said that an additional 300 cars adjacent to I-77 at exit 28 would create an eye sore for the town.
"You're a great corporate citizen here in Cornelius and if I am in your shoes, I can easily imagine why this is a slam dunk investment," said Commissioner Dave Gilroy. "There’s a rationale behind this disallowed use for automotive sales, it didn’t just come out of thin air. We’ve got a lot of auto dealerships here in Cornelius and I think when you look at what happens, these things cluster and create enormous concentrations."
The expansion allows for additional inventory, parking for employees and customers and space for car detailing and maintenance. Zoerb leases space from nearby Wilburn Auto Body Shop for employee parking and storage for 100 cars.
He said the expansion will bring between 35-40 new jobs to Cornelius with a median income between $80,000-100,000. He now has 110 employees at his dealerships.
A spokesperson for Zoerb said March 5 the company has gone back to the planning department and spoken with the architect to figure out their next course of action. Despite the setback, Zoerb will continue his effort to expand the Lake Norman Hyundai dealership at that location.
“We are trying to accomplish a lot,” Zoerb told the board Monday night. “I am wanting to work with the city and I will do whatever is asked to help with any issues that come up whether it’s the design of the building, parking or whatever it is.”