Montibello Homeowners Association: A Proud History - By Matt Karres and Hap Arnold - July, 2003
Montibello Homeowners Association is involved in matters that help make Montibello a safe, beautiful and desirable neighborhood. Landscaping, and landscape maintenance of our entrances, along the Carmel Road wall and in the cul-de-sac circles help make the neighborhood attractive. Family and children’s social events sponsored by MHA help foster a sense of community. Keeping neighbors informed about activities and issues affecting all residents through such media as Montibello News and MontibelloHOA.com adds to that sense of community and permits us to maintain a united front in efforts to influence issues affecting our neighborhood.
MHA has a proud history over nearly 30 years of successful leadership in influencing development of Montibello and the surrounding area. MHA is one of the largest associations of its kind (voluntary) in Mecklenburg County and, presumably, in North Carolina. Without exaggeration, our area would be far different but for the efforts of MHA in teamwork with Montibello residents. Following is a compilation of some of these accomplishments:
Proposed rezonings defeated - The area between Hillingdon and Rotunda Roads, now filled with Montibello homes, was the subject of two different efforts to rezone. This was the last parcel owned by the family that had previously owned most of the land that now constitutes Montibello. In an attempt to “cash in” on this remaining land in the 1980s, a 12 unit per acre apartment complex was planned for the area. Large undeveloped parcels remained on the east side of Carmel Road. Royden, Carmel Crescent, Giverny, the Dovewood area and other parcels to the south had not yet been developed. Efforts led by MHA in concert with hundreds of Montibello residents defeated this rezoning proposal. Following the defeat of the rezoning for apartments, the landowners proposed a large assisted living facility in this same area. The same considerations applied and this project was defeated after another huge effort by MHA and neighborhood residents. Obviously, either the apartment complex or the assisted living facility would have had a significant adverse effect on Montibello. Without these collective efforts, development in our area would be substantially more dense.
Quail Hollow Road extension defeated - In the mid 1980s, there was a plan to extend Quail Hollow Road across Carmel Road through what are now the newer sections of Montibello and through English Gardens to the then proposed Colony Road extension. Members of MHA were able to persuade city traffic engineers to review the plans for this project and ultimately it was determined that this roadway was not needed.
Olde Towne Village - Starting in 1975, the original plans for the shopping center were greatly influenced by MHA. The unobtrusive appearance of the center with its buffers was not an accident. It resulted from negotiations by MHA with the developer. The later expansion and renovation of the center required a rezoning. MHA coordinated the efforts of nine neighborhoods to work with all parties through the rezoning process and ultimately to negotiate with the developer a change in the upgrade plans. The initial proposal called for three out parcels located only 40 feet from Carmel and Quail Hollow Roads. That plan would have prevailed absent the efforts of the neighborhood coalition to negotiate change. All these efforts had a positive influence on the appearance of the center, helping to make it as we see it today.
Carmel Streetscape - The original negotiations involving Olde Towne Village also had an impact on the rezoning needed for the Carmel Hollow Condominiums and the Summit Apartments, both of which had the same developer as Olde Towne Village. The 150 foot buffers for these projects were greatly influenced by MHA and probably would not have been included without our association’s efforts.
Communication Towers - Some will remember that the original tower on the Summit Apartment property was quite unsightly, with antennae hanging off the pole. With the help of the developer, MHA was able to persuade the carrier to remove the old tower and replace it with the unicell monopole tower now on the site. This was the first such tower in Mecklenburg County. When a second tower was proposed, MHA had no grounds to prevent its erection but we were able to get the Building and Zoning Department to require that the new tower be of the same design as the one then existing.
The Montibello Wall - The construction of the wall along Carmel Road was a massive undertaking that required a “meeting of the minds” among the homeowners on whose properties the wall was to be built. Each agreed to expend significant sums for construction and these funds were supplemented by donations from residents, from Montibello organizations such as the Women’s Club and by funds from the MHA treasury. (The Garden Club and Ladybugs decorated the wall during holidays.) MHA arranged for the construction and for fund raising in the neighborhood. Without the wall and the ongoing maintenance of the landscape along the wall, the view along Carmel Road would be haphazard, severely detracting from Montibello’s appearance and, presumably, from its property values as well.
Tree Planting Program - The trees that line Montibello streets look beautiful at all seasons of the year but no season is more spectacular than Springtime. The cherry trees on Ingelow Lane can be breathtaking at the peak of their bloom. The Montibello street trees did not just happen. They were the result of a four to five year project under the auspices of the City Cooperative Tree Planting Program that involved polling the residents of each street to select the appropriate tree, notifying each homeowner, collecting funds from those who opted to have trees planted, working with the city arborist on the planting schedule and fielding numerous questions from homeowners. Residents were enthusiastic and the program was such a success that Charlotte City Council recognized Montibello as the city’s number one neighborhood for beautification for one of the years during the planting program.
Street Lighting - the decorative street lights, which are uniform throughout Montibello, were installed as a result of a petition drive begun by MHA pursuant to a program instituted by the city. Without this effort, old style street lights mounted on wooden poles ultimately would have been installed in Montibello.
Storm Drainage - In the late 1980s, as the last sections of Montibello were being developed, a storm water runoff problem arose in the area under development. After heavy rains flooded developed areas of Montibello, a committee of homeowners organized in coordination with MHA to address the issue with the City of Charlotte. The committee quickly educated itself about what needed to be done and through a highly organized effort initiated a successful petition drive and persuaded city officials to move the project to the top of the project list. As a result of those actions, the city installed a storm drain system to carry water from affected areas into McAlpine Creek.
Bed and Breakfast in Montibello - This was the first attempt by a homeowner to open a business with signage and overnight activity in Montibello, in violation of the neighborhood’s restrictive covenants. After the offending homeowners refused to comply with the restrictions on their property, MHA funded and arranged for the filing of a lawsuit to prohibit this activity. The lawsuit was successful and the B&B closed. Failure to contest this violation would have adversely affected our ability to enforce our restrictions which are crucial to the preservation of the residential character of Montibello.
We recognize that individual residents sometimes have personal issues with legal actions undertaken by the MHA board. It is the board’s responsibility, however, to represent the majority opinions of our membership as opposed to any individual’s views, and to take the action which is in Montibello’s best interests. In making these decisions, the board always has in mind the objectives of maintaining the residential character of the neighborhood, protecting its property values and making Montibello a safe, beautiful and desirable place to live.
It is MHA’s large membership, along with the time devoted by board members, street hostesses and other volunteers that make these accomplishments possible. Generally speaking, individual residents simply do not have the clout to influence large projects. Working together through our organization, we can accomplish significant things. As the area continues to be developed, and in some instances redeveloped, we must be in a position to continue to work for our mutual best interests. We need the assistance of all Montibello residents, dedicating time, talent and a little money on behalf of the neighborhood.