Homeowners feel threatened by email from Walgreens developer

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Some Charlotte homeowners feel threatened by an email from a developer fighting to build a Walgreens in Dilworth.

The email, from developer Lincoln Harris, says if the Walgreens isn't approved, homeowners will see a project with a lot more businesses -- including restaurants.

Lincoln Harris initially asked to delay the vote so it has more time to work with some of the neighbors who are protesting it.

Late Monday, it requested that the council vote on it during Monday night’s council meeting, which Dilworth residents had also been requesting.

Cynthia Schwartz has fought against the Walgreens for months and she, along with other members of the Dilworth Community Development Association, have worked with neighbors who signed a protest petition against it.

"It's been a long fight," she said.

But Schwartz says recently, some of those neighbors have been harassed by calls and emails from Lincoln Harris to support the current plan and withdraw their names from the petition.

She said an email last night to her and other Dilworth leaders shocked her.

"It felt very threatening," she said.

In the email, Lincoln Harris Vice-President Alex Kelly outlines what the current zoning does allow it to build if the request for rezoning is denied.

It could include office space, an "express" Walgreens, restaurants and a branch bank.

"This plan is guaranteed to negatively impact the value of homes and way of life -- something that I have attempted to avoid," Kelly wrote.

"If we are not approved, we will move forward with the alternate plan under the current zoning and will not look to the neighborhood for feedback."

Eyewitness News told Kelly that some residents were interpreting the language as a threat.

"I don't think it's a threat," he said. "The only thing I'm trying to get across in all of this is simply, this is what we're proposing, this is what we will look at alternatively."

Kelly said Lincoln Harris has invested a lot of money in the project in designs, deposits, and legal fees. He said the company plans to buy the property by Feb. 22 and build something there no matter what.

On Monday afternoon, one of the neighbors did withdraw from the petition, writing:

"Given only these options ... We are reluctantly withdrawing our names from the protest petition."

Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon said he wants Dilworth residents and Lincoln Harris to work together but believes a vote is necessary if there is no hope for compromise between the two parties.

"When you send emails like this, that doesn't really help someone's case, in my opinion," he said.