If you want to see Lincoln County’s population grow, you have to have places for the new people to live.
The decision made by county commissioners on Monday to rezone a parcel of land near East Lincoln High School in Denver for a 1,650-unit, 600-acre “adult active lifestyle community” built by Shea Homes was the right move.
The development will grow the county’s tax base. That the majority of the units will be reserved for people age 55 and older has both positive and negative aspects. I don’t really want to see Lincoln County turn exclusively into a retirement destination — Florida can handle that all on its own — but drawing in people either late in their careers or retired can certainly be a boost to the community, particularly if those folks identify with and participate in the county as a whole, rather than live in Denver and spend all their time, and money, in Charlotte. Or believe that Denver is somehow a soon-to-be-annexed part of northwestern Mecklenburg County.
Opponents of the development said it would cause heavier traffic and result in more people using residential neighborhood streets as bypasses to get where they’re going.
That may be true, but so what?
A drive through some of Charlotte’s chokepoints during rush hour should keep the traffic concerns in perspective. The intersection of Highway 16 and Highway 73 will seem like a Thursday morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway by comparison.
The Shea development may add to some congestion, and may necessitate some infrastructure improvements, but that’s the nature of progress.
And if you don’t want to run the risk of people using your neighborhood as a cut-through, don’t move to a neighborhood that can be used as a cut-through.
The Denver area has been growing for many years. Anyone living in neighborhoods near the main roads should have recognized the possibility that over-zealous travelers would see their streets as an opportunity to shave 30 seconds off their drive time.
The Shea development is a good thing for the county. There may be some growing pains associated with it, but that’s what we’ll get if we want to see this project and others like it improve Lincoln County.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.