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We're Going As Fast As We Can

To The Editors:

Regarding Tara Seratius' article, "Just Leave Us Alone" (CL, February 6): While I usually enjoy and respect Ms. Servatius' courageous and hard-hitting journalism, something seems to be clouding her perspective when it comes to the proposed expansion of SouthPark Mall.

A primary goal of the SouthPark lawsuit is to force the Charlotte City Council to process rezoning petitions in a procedurally fair, open manner before unbiased decision-makers. When City Council members commit themselves to a rezoning by "handshakes at the Country Club" before the rezoning process begins, the City's Planning Department review and the public hearing are rendered virtually meaningless. Martin Cramton, the City's Planning Director, has complained publicly about this premature influence peddling by the developers.

At least 13 other states have adopted, by judicial decree or legislation, the type of rezoning process my clients are seeking. The leading land use planning legal authority in North Carolina, David Owens of the Institute of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill, supports the type of rezoning process we seek. These arguments are not "off-the-wall," as Ms. Servatius suggests.

Thoughtful land-use planning is critical to the long-term economic and physical health of all Mecklenburg County residents. Dirty air is directly related to automobile dependence, which in turn is directly related to land use decisions. The economic health of the Center City, which is the heart and soul of the Charlotte region, is dependent on diversity of employment and transportation access. Where you put things, such as destination retail, matters.

The expansion of SouthPark Mall is horrible regional use planning, sharply condemned by Michael Gallis, the chief architect of our most comprehensive land use plan, the 2025 Integrated Transit/Land Use Plan. Expansion of SouthPark Mall creates a bipolar city, both of which have some of the dirtiest air in the country.

Throughout this litigation, we have cooperated fully with the attorneys for the City of Charlotte and SouthPark Mall in moving the case as quickly as possible through the legal system. If my clients were just interested in slowing development in Charlotte, they would not have permitted me to expedite this litigation. If the SouthPark Mall developers are getting somewhat desperate at this point, that can't be helped. A fair system and adherence to comprehensive land use plans are more important.

Ms. Servatius accuses me of being "a publicity hound." Well, I do enjoy the publicity, but I have never initiated contact with the press about my cases; they call me, and I'm open to speak with the press as permitted by our ethical rules. Indeed, I would welcome a call from Ms. Servatius, whom I believe is one of the best journalists in the city.

Kenneth T. Davies


New Slogan

To The Editors:

I must take exception with CL labeling its February 13 issue "Totally Prostitute-free," since it contains the names of the mayor and every City Council member who voted for the arena. I understand their 2003 campaign slogan will be "We put the 'Hor' in 'Hornets.'"

Charles Held


Lucy Misconstrues Christianity

To The Editors:

Regarding Lucy Perkins' take on Christianity, "I'm Sure I'll Catch Hell For This" (CL, February 6), I agree that many awful things have been and are done in the name of our Founder. In a fallen world. . .sin happens.

I would differ with Ms. Perkins in regarding true Christianity as a religion. Religion is man trying to reach up to please God. Christianity is God reaching down to man in Christ to establish a relationship.

One thing Lucy will agree with me on is this, Christ is for losers. I can almost hear her Amen. Scripture states as much in Luke 5:31-32: "Jesus answered them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' It's those who know they don't have their act together who are candidates for His Kingdom. So, yes the church may be full of hypocrites. . .but there's always room for one more.

P. Elliott Taggart


Listen First, Write Later

To The Editors:

Based on his piece regarding the Tennessee Triple Threat show at the Evening Muse (Scene and Herd, February 6), I take issue with Tim Davis' ability to review songwriters. Phil Lee's song "You Should Have Known Me Then" is, on the surface, perhaps a simplistic and humorous look back at a life lived wrong. As is the case with most worthwhile songs, however, the surface veneer is the least important facet. In the case of this song, the substance beneath the lyrics and the humility with which Lee delivers them -- both live and on his CD -- are simply staggering. It's a song about lessons learned, and the innate human desire to remain nostalgic about things once considered fun but often realized painfully fruitless in retrospect. If Mr. Davis is willing to shoulder the responsibility of reviewing music and having his name in the tagline, he must also shoulder the responsibility of listening to and understanding the music he reviews -- whether he personally likes a song or not is irrelevant. It is a disservice to any songwriter to slight a song like this one without actually understanding its intent. It is a slight to Phil Lee in particular to use this song to smear him. Particularly so when no mention was made of the quiet intensity and humanity of a song like "Three Faces In the Window," another of that evening's offerings from Phil, which clearly underscores the artist's humanity and sense of belonging in the human rat race. It's a song many of Charlotte's well-dressed yuppies (Creative Loafing readers? writers?) would do well to hear before they turn the next blind eye to the homeless all over uptown. It's also a song that manages to address an important facet of the human condition without any of the cheesiness or self-congratulatory pity that most of today's pop music seems mired in.

Dave Pilot


Here's What I Said

To The Editors:

In response to Terry C. Cox ("Hornets are a good deal," Letters, February 13) who responded to my February 6 letter ("Give me real sports teams"): Excuse me, Mr. Cox. I think you missed (or just couldn't comprehend) the major points I was trying to illustrate in my letter. As a resident of Charlotte and a "sports" fan (not just basketball), I think the majority of us want the Hornets to stay in Charlotte! The citizens have not "decided to run them out of town," but have elected not to be held ransom by their demands for a new arena. Why do they need a new arena, when they can't fill the one they have? I'll tell you why. . .to help pay for exorbitant player salaries and feed owner greed.

I made two major points: (1) Give the Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey and Charlotte Knights baseball teams the recognition, credit, and fan support they deserve. These teams offer the "best sports value" in town for any sports fan or family. And (2) Stop paying professional athletes ridiculous salaries, regardless of the sport, and ticket, concessions, and merchandise prices would be affordable for the majority of the public. Instead, pay the athletes based primarily on their PERFORMANCE. This would keep prices lower and elevate the level of play in the game, thus improving the enterainment value of the game for the fans.

Nowhere in my previous letter did I mention the Hornets' owners, but I am now. The Hornets' owners could care less about the team, this city, or its residents or they wouldn't be shopping the team to other cities, who are ignorant of the owners' reputations. The Hornets, we want to stay. The owners? Go rape another city and its citizens of their hard earned dollars and don't let the proverbial door to the city hit you in the ass on the way out. . .

Alex Dunn

CharlotteCharlotte Trumps New Orleans

To The Editors:

Regarding "Tale of Two Cities" by Susan Shackelford (CL, February 6), I thought the column was quite amusing but misleading. I am far from being a Charlotte booster, but I can tell you that the main difference between the two cities is that Charlotte is a much better place to live. The infrastructure in New Orleans has been crumbling for the last couple of decades. The police are underpaid and are continually fighting corruption. Extreme violent crime is an everyday occurrence. Finally, it has the shortest lifespan per capita in the United States. New Orleans is a great place to visit. Charlotte is a better place to live.

Carl Fulmer


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