Nov 202008

n Tuesday, November 19, Union County’s private-public and taxpayer susbsidized economic developement co-operative, the Union County Partnership of Progress (UCPP) presented a grand vision for a future business park in eastern Union County.

Before a group of 100 or more business and government leaders at the Wingate University’s La Verne Hall, UCPP President Maurice Ewing emceed the presentation; introducing speakers who spoke of the proposed plan, but with few specifics. Speakers included Duke Power’s Tony Almeida and Randy Broome, Jay Smith of O’Brien/Atkins a architectural, engineering and land design firm, Lisa Owens of BAE Systems, Ronnie Bryant of the Charlotte Regional Partnership and Tom Williams, retired CEO of ATI Alvac and former chairman of UCPP.

The presentation lasted for more than an hour and was accompanied by a sparse power point presentation. The map below shows the location, the expected size is 5000 acres, providing 14 million square feet of space. Land designer Jay Smith offered a rendering of how the park might could be configured. A mixed use site of industrial, office, institutional, commercial retail, higher education and residential were listed as potential composition of the site. CSX Transportation, who could build an “integrated logistics center,” a rail-to-truck distribution center, as shown on the site plan, was the only company and possible Legacy Park participate mentioned, but did not attend the presentation.

The nexus of rail and interstate highway, the proximity Charlotte-Monroe Airport and Charlotte metro was said to be primary draw for the park and in the grand vision of UCPP Chairman Bob Butz could be as big as the Research Triangle Park near Durham, the 8,000-acre business and research center.

All in all an impressive array of people, talent and expections.

Ok, sounds great! What’s next?

Personally, I like the vision concept, I like the business park idea. I would have preferred more detail and less grandiose. Why waste an opportunity to give the audience and by extension the public more concrete information.

I do have a few questions:

  1. Why locate the park so far from Monroe and Union County infrastructure?
  2. Who, what and how will the sewer and water be provided to the park?
  3. How will the land procurement be handled?
  4. A project of this size will require a serious amount of investment capital. Who will provide it?
  5. Most of the acreage comprising Legacy Park – Phase One is owned by the Carrol Edwards (estate), will the land be purchased or is Edwards Wood Products an investment partner?
  6. What part is Union County government be expected to play?
  7. What effect will a super-sized Union County Business Park have on Monroe Airport park?
  8. What about promoting the existing Business Parks in Indian Trail and Stalling?
  9. and most important:

  10. Now that business park land has been identified, how will speculators be kept from driving up the land values as it occurred the last time Union County attempted a Business Park? (FYI: The park failed as a result.)

In all honestly, I’d like to see a venture like Legacy Park succeed, but I am concerned given UCPP’s pathetic record to date and the strong whiff of cronyism rising from the selected location, it may be stillborn.

We will be following Union County’s newest adventure.

Union County map showing Legacy Park – click to enlarge

Legacy Park site plan – click to enlarge

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  11 Responses to “Legacy Park: A Grand Vision for Union County or Not.”

  1. This is of course in anticipation of the bypass and would be impossible without it. When is the anticipated completion of that road, or start for that matter?

    My guess is that there will be the loss of a lot of good farm land from this, not to mention the houses that would come if the park were a success. Union County could kiss its farm culture goodby.

    There are forces at work that will make it more and more advantageous to transport food less and less distances. The cost of food today includes an average of some 1500 miles of travel on the way to your mouth. Nutritionists tell us that we would be a lot healthier if we ate more locally grown foods.

    It would be kind of nice to have a unique county in the metropolitan area where much of the food for the area could be grown. That would certainly be a much more stable industry than all the things that might fill up this park.

    This does not thrill me because it simply expands the bounds of the heavily populated metropolitan area by consuming good farmland. It also seems too much like a business model for twenty five years ago. I think that it anticipates developments that just may not ever return in a world where energy is going to cost more and more.

    The Van Wingerden family developed greenhouses in north Mecklenburg for flowers. They now have some 150 acres under greenhouse roof, last time I was there. It would seem to me that you could develop a year round food producing operation similarly that would provide a lot of lower cost food for local consumption. Just thinking.

  2. Aubrey,

    You are correct in your statement that Legacy Park would not be feasible with the Monroe Bypass. The park visionaries project the bypass to be complete by 2014, giving fast access to I485 and Charlotte.

    We should mention the game our fine NCDOT and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority is playing with Bypass route plowing through Stallings and Indian Trial, just to keep the road as a state road and not part of the Federal Highway System.

    To most of us, the logical beginning of the bypass should be I485, but to do that you’d lose all the local exchanges that will be prove very rewarding to crooks and cronies who have delayed the bypass for years and now ready to reap the benefits.

    The placing of Legacy Park at the corner of Union County is no accident.

  3. Aubrey,

    Are you sure you arent the reincarnation of Rick Becker? I remember dozens of posts from him earlier this year where he claimed that there is no usage of land except agriculture that pays for itself.

    And, just like him, I’m sure that YOU want to be the person who decides whether or not a farmer can develop his land, or whether he must be forced to keep farming until he dies of old age, penniless and with a blown-out lower back.

    If you want to conserve farmland, here’s an amazing idea- why don’t you go out and BUY THE LAND and conserve it?

    No- you’d rather use the tyranny of zoning boards to change the rules and make sure it can’t be developed.

    Of course. You love the farmland, you just don’t want to pay for it.

  4. Mark Raines: Please read what I said and not what you want to project into what I said. I believe that if you read the last paragraph, I am speaking of a very intensive type of vegetable growing that does not exist locally and could be, in the long run, as or more financially rewarding to the present land owners.

    Here is where your argument become vacuous. This will only work with heavy government involvement which will include water lines, sewage lines, a new sewage treatment plant or expansion of the Monroe plant, and a road that is yet to be built which makes it possible. In other words, you feel that it is alright for government to hit the taxpayers for tons of money if it rewards a certain element of the population because they are in some way more deserving than everyone else.

    You, my friend are the socialist. It is your logic that gets us down that road step by step. You just do it where some more Godly group are the benefactors.

  5. As was said in the article this depends heavily on the completion of the Monroe bypass. Do you know there are plans for a Marshville bypass (south of 74) that begins at the end of the Monroe bypass and ends at the entrance to this proposed park? The land is in the Peedee river basin therefore water and sewer can be purchased from Anson Co. This is not available in Indian Trail or Stallings because of over builing there. As far as infrastructure, such parks need highway access (74) rail acess (already there)and reasonable purchase prices for the land. Let’s see: 5000 acres AT 10K PER ACRE IS AVAILABLE WHERE IN INDIAL TRAIL OR STALLINGS? I am not particularily in favor of this (or against it) but I can see both sides of the argument.

  6. John Barker said “This is not available in Indian Trail or Stallings because of over building there.”

    I was not clear enough on my point, I was referring to existing business parks in Indian Trail and Stallings area that have not been promoted by UCPP.

    Concerning your point about sewer and water from Anson. I know about the water coming from Anson, but I am unaware of a sewer solution available from Anson County. I will look into it.

    Eastern and north eastern Union County has thousands of undeveloped acres which are in closer proximity to I485. I’d be interested in seeing other sites considered, since Duke Power did this feasibility appraisal, perhaps they’d be interesting looking sites near RT218.

    A GIS study of Phase One of Legacy Park confirms my suspicions.

  7. OK, the new guy on the block wants to put in his take on Legacy Park and I am pretty thick skinned so anyone who wants to weigh in go ahead but remember what goes around comes around.

    The idea of Legacy Park impresses me but does not surprise me knowing that the author of it was one of the hardest working men to come out of Union County (Carroll Edwards).
    Mr. Edwards was personable, honest and truly wanted to give back to his community. I think the one thing that jumped out to me and has not been mentioned is the Intermodal Rail yard and the rail yard that would make Eastern Union County(Legacy Park) an Inland Dry Port to take pressure off of Wilmington and Morehead City not to mention less traffic between Legacy Park and the coast with probably most of the containerized freight going west into Charlotte and other states. If you look at the map, the property touches Anson County and as John B. mentioned, the property is in the Pee Dee basin so water would make sense from Anson and a gravity sewer line from the site would be gravity flow to an already existing Anson County Pump Station. The Edwards family is one of the few that could put something of this magnitude together and make it work. Mr.& Mrs Edwards worked hard in acquiring this land, small tracts at a time cutting the timber off of it, clearing it, and sowing grass on it and currently raising cattle on it.
    I feel nothing but pride to see someone like the Edwards prosper for they have truly given back to the community.
    As Mark R. said, there is nothing wrong with a farmer making money off of selling his land and it would take a tract of this size to make the project feasible. The proximity of houses in Indian Trail or Stallings would make permitting a tract of this size impossible due to zoning struggles. And here is probably as good as a place as any to get something off my chest that has been there for sometime. I am not connected to The Woods development and respect the Friends of Weddington for not wanting it there but I found it ironic that people that land airplanes in their subdivision would not want a sewer plant in their neighborhood. I also find it ironic that my county of 55 years will not allow pump stations but puts a shiny new pump station at every new school that it builds (Marvin Ridge and Cuthbertson).

    You can’t put a water tower or cell phone tower in the western part of the county so I imagine that the powers that be felt the only place that you could site the industrial park was in the rural eastern part of the county and a rail line was paramount to the success of this deal. Granted there is land in the IT/S area but not a property of this size and available.
    And to Mark D., to me this seems like a win/win situation. UCounty gets industrial tax base and it is about as far from Marvin/Weddington as you can get. It seems to me that we sometimes argue so much about what we need that when what we need comes along, we don’t even recognize the real thing.

    OK, gentlemen, have at it!!!

  8. Mar D; the north east corner of this park is within a short distance of 218, close enough to widen an existing road to connect them.

  9. Dennis,

    I do believe you left out the ladies from your earlier post. Being one that lives in a neighborhood with those planes flying over head, I would like to address your earlier comment. The pilots who fly in and out of our neighborhood are highly skilled at what they do. Your comparison of airplanes to private sewer plants gives one the impression of being uninformed on this particular issue. Friends of Weddington does not want private sewer plants in our town or county because it is the wrong infrastructure for our town. Union County needs to find a way to fix this mess. Having new blood on board, we’re very hopeful that things will finally get addressed.

    IB Development announced last week they are suing Weddington for the denial of their CUP request for a private sewer plant. For more information visit


  10. Dennis,

    The entire pump station issue is about as phony as the carolina heelsplitter development ban. They both exist for one reason only- because local residents elected officials who ran on platforms of stopping all new growth but they need a “deflection” so they can pretend that they aren’t actually trying to stop growth, they’re just doing what’s best for the safety of the community.

    You are correct, every school in Marvin is served by high pressure lines with pump stations, and there are hundreds of smaller ones in Monroe. There are pump stations all over union county, the question is merely who do you have to bribe to get a permit for one these days.

    In almost every town and county in the entire state of NC where the land is flat, pump stations are normal and found all over the place. In many larger cities, each individual house has a low pressure pump connecting to the main sewer- but somehow they manage to avoid environmental disaster.

    But to hear from the no-growth crowd in union county, any pump station is a toxic time-bomb waiting to happen, which will very likely break down every 24 hours and spill millions of gallons of raw sewage onto the veranda of someone’s aunt Bessie and ruin her mint julep and white lace dress.

    It’s amazing how pump stations are standard practice for everywhere else in the USA, but in union county apparently our engineers and politicians have determined through CLEARLY nonpartisan logic that they can’t possibly make them work reliably here. :roll:

    I’ll be waiting for Aubrey to re-post links to article showing a handful of pump station incidents over the last decade in mecklenburg county, thus proving that we should also outlaw automobiles since thousands of people die every year in car accidents.

  11. Back in the late ’80′s or early 90′s there was a Union County PUD (Planned Unit Development # 6) for the area near Marvin in western Union County where much of the area between the Mecklenburg County line and Waxhaw was going to be polo fields, golf courses, parks and riding trails with a few stately home scattered about. Problem was no one had any money to buy the property and develop it in that manner. YOU KNOW WHAT WE HAVE IN THAT AREA NOW – HOUSES, SCHOOLS, CROWDED NARROW ROADS, ALONG WITH LIMITED WATER & SEWER AND IRRIGATION AVAILABLE ONE DAY PER WEEK. ALONG WITH THAT PROPERTY TAXES ON AVERAGE SINCE 2002 HAVE INCREASED 8.5 PERCENT COMPOUNDED EACH YEAR FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS TO BUILD SCHOOLS.

    Pardon me if I don’t get too excited over Legacy Park right now (though it may be a grand idea) with currently no money for land acquisition, no water , no sewer, no wide roads and little or no existing nearby train service. Who knows what will eventually come there in another 30 years – maybe more houses just like the PUD # 6 area assuming some water & sewer gets put in first.

    Speaking of trains since the trolly is such a booming success why isn’t someone pushing for a trolly from Monroe to Charlotte alongside the existing Conrail track. Not if, but when gas goes back up that alternative (TROLLY) may even make US 74 a viable alternative to the bypass and un-like the bypass US 74 connects directly to I-485. Besides widening NC 218 from I-485 makes a lot of sense and it could probably be configured to serve Legacy Park just as well.

    G. Hendry

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