HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — By the time Jake Palillo stood in front of the Huntersville Board of Commissioners on June 5 to make his case for the massive Lagoona Bay Beach Club, his plan had already landed in unprecedented development territory.
There had been weeks of social-media frenzy leading up to the first public hearing on Bi-Part Development’s rezoning application for the $800 million-plus mixed-use community. Neighborhood groups’ claims of corruption, insider dealing and more led Palillo to file a defamation lawsuit against two Huntersville residents — both of whom, undeterred, spoke against the project at the hearing.
The hearing — which was moved to the Huntersville Recreation Center from the town hall to accommodate the hundreds of residents who showed up, mostly to oppose the rezoning sought for the site off Sam Furr Road — went on for over three hours. Many residents spoke against the project, donning stickers that read “Lagoona Nay!”
Applause and cheers rang out for several opposition speakers.
This is Huntersville. Rather than unprecedented, the wave of large-scale development opposition is becoming nearly routine. Lagoona Bay’s hard landing before the town board came just two months after North American Properties saw its Birkdale Village makeover rejected.
As development momentum continues to build, Huntersville is “suffering from a lot of growth,” as its infrastructure struggles to keep up and major projects have been met with pushback, said Bill McCoy, the retired director of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. Huntersville is an important piece in the region’s growth, and some believe its divided attitude towards development represents an identity crisis.
“Most of these places have gone through a process to figure out what they are and who they are and what they want to be,” McCoy said. “I don’t think Huntersville has ever done that.”
Huntersville has seen explosive population growth in the last three decades. The small town that had a population of just over 3,000 in 1990 now has more than 63,000 residents, according to 2022 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
McCoy said it is clear the town’s infrastructure has not kept up. Roads and traffic, along with the capacity of schools in the area, have been front and center in the debate over recent rezoning requests.
But with its proximity to both a major metro in Charlotte and an amenity such as Lake Norman, development pressure is certain to continue in Huntersville. Read CBJ’s full story here for a big-picture look at how local politics come into play, where the pain points are and what’s next for major developments moving forward.
(WATCH BELOW: Town board votes ‘no’ on Huntersville Birkdale Village project)
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