HOA complaints, board confusion prompts discussion

CORNELIUS – A possible misunderstanding, plus residents speaking out against a recent board vote, has town commissioners putting discussions about parking on Harborside Drive back on the agenda.

A handful of Harborside residents came to the July 7 meeting to complain about the Cornelius board reversing a homeowners association parking ban on Harborside Drive and changing Viewpoint Lane to one-way. They expressed frustration that one household had potentially overshadowed the opinions of the rest of the neighborhood.

“The reason I’m here is because for me it’s a big safety issue,” resident Lorri Taylor said. “You can’t see children walking around or people walking their animals. I just want you to be aware of the safety issues that go along with this."

The board decision to add parking back was made at the June 16 meeting after HOA President Michelle Crawford presented the results of a neighborhood vote, as previously requested by the town, to see how residents felt about parking. The tally represented 40 percent of the residents and revealed they wanted to keep the parking ban on the neighborhood’s main road.

Offering sympathy to the nearly 30 townhomes facing West Catawba Avenue with limited parking options, Commissioner John Bradford suggested returning a few of the parking spaces back to the area, while still keeping limitations on it for resident safety. It was approved at the time, with Commissioner David Gilroy dissenting because it went against the neighborhood vote.

Residents at the July 7 meeting, including some HOA board members, were upset their vote meant nothing and said their safety was at risk. Plus, part of the measure to ban parking was to help aesthetics, but residents said the street is now peppered with parking signs.

Bradford tried to explain his reasoning for going against the vote by saying the ban was taking something away from residents.

“I don’t think the board should be put in a position to take away something that’s always been there,” he said. “In reality, the ballot said the vote was somewhat ceremonial and that the board makes the final decision. There is no secret surprise in that. We were hoping for some huge indicator and there would be no parking, but less than 40 percent of the community even voted.”

Crawford countered that the parking ban had been in effect prior to the town taking over the street as public right-of-way, adding that at the guidance of town staff, they had tried other measures for improving safety on the road when it was still private. She told the board when the town took over the street, staff grandfathered in the No Parking signs.

Bradford said he was now baffled about the issue and felt that could change things, as did the town attorney. They asked for a timeline and more details prior to the July 21 meeting.

Commissioner Jim Duke, who previously said residents could vote in new HOA members if they didn’t like what they were doing, also has a new perspective upon hearing all HOA board members were re-elected.

“That’s very telling to me of what the community wants,” he said. 

Crawford said she has been working on getting exact dates and information to clear up some discrepancies she feels have occurred and is looking forward to the outcome of the next meeting.

“I am not there in favor of one thing or the other, I am there to represent my residents and the option they voted on,” she said.