Map shows proposed development “nodes” in the N.C. 73 planning area, from Highway 115 on the left to Davidson-Concord/N.C. 73 intersection at right.
The Planning Board meets tonight to hear citizen comments and then vote on the proposed N.C. 73/ Davidson-Concord Area Plan, which is aimed at helping Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville guide future development in what could be the region’s next major growth corridor.
The plan also comes as Davidson prepares for the July 10 end of a one-year moratorium on development in the area east of town. That delay in new developments was put in place last year to give the town time to react to growth pressure already existing in the area.
Town officials say the proposed plan could help Davidson as it considers whether and how to re-zone property east of town. Most of the land is currently zoned rural residential. But Davidson, which currently has a tax base that is 87 percent residential, is looking for ways to increase commercial and mixed-use development and avoid what otherwise could be the inevitable addition of thousands of new homes. Town Manager Leamon Brice has said frequently during budget discussions this spring that tax revenues from residential development actually do not cover the cost of town services. A better balance of residential and commercial development would help, he has said.
Davidson is the only one of the three towns that hopes to use the draft plan to guide a broad rezoning in the N.C. 73 area. Davidson planners say Huntersville officials have told them they plan to refer to the plan as they review future development proposals on a case-by-case basis. And Cornelius officials have told Davidson they plan no widespread rezonings.
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WHAT: Davidson Planning Board meeting
Under the plan, the three towns would try to create a series of mixed-use clusters, or “nodes,” which would resemble the old parts of town. These would include a mixture of homes, offices, small and mid-sized retail stores and civic uses (churches, schools or public offices, for example).
Planners and officials from Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville led a series of workshops over the past year with property owners, citizens and other “stakeholders.” Town Planner Lauren Blackburn, speaking at the May 27 Town Board work session, said the plan’s goals, as identified by stakeholders, include:
- Preserving trees and open space
- Bicycle and pedestrian safety
- Commercial and mixed-use development
- Walkabalilty within new developments
- Free traffic flow and safe traffic flow, especially on older “farm to market” and rural roads
- High quality architecture
- Connections to other amenities in the area.
“A lot of these principles and goals are not anything new to Davidson,” Ms. Blackburn said when she presented the draft plan at the work session. “We’ve instilled them in our planning ordinance. We’ve had them in a number of other plans. This isn’t going to be a new concept of development. But what we needed to do was apply them to this specific study area.”
The study area covers areas primarily outside the town limits, but within the planning jurisdictions, of Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville. It extends roughly from the intersection of East Rocky River and Davidson-Concord Road southeast along N.C. 73 and east of Highway 115 in Cornelius.
The plan identifies several potential mixed-use centers: the Westmoreland node, south of Davidson-Concord Road near the intersection of East Rocky River Road; the Mayes node, surrounding the N.C. 73/Davidson-Concord Road intersection; and the Hopewell node, south of Davidson-Concord Road, near Hopewell Baptist Church. Two more nodes would be on Bailey and Mayes Roads, off Highway 115 south of Cornelius.
Some property owners who spoke at last week’s Town Board work session were unhappy with the plan. Stewart Gray, who lives on June Washam Road not far from the Davidson-Concord/N.C. 73 intersection, said he is disappointed. He said the town appears to be changing its mind about what it wants the area to look like.
The town and property owners in its ETJ, or extraterritorial jurisdiction, have been discussing growth for a decade, with “a lot of disagreements and fights about preserving open space,” Mr. Gray said.
“A lot of that has been thrown out the window,” he said. “A lot of people had felt they had come to an understanding of what the ETJ would look like . A lot of people have felt they understood what our development rights would be and how much open space we were going to have to carry. … Not that I don’t think open space is a wonderful thing. But I’m real concerned that if some of this intensive development happens here, and then the rural zone gets changed (such as his own land) … that no further development would be allowed. … Six months ago we had a lot more development rights.”
Ms. Blackburn said much work still lies ahead for the plan and the town’s efforts to implement it. She said planners hope to present the Town Board with a series of planning ordinance amendments that will reclassify at least some properties in the study area. She said the town must do that soon, since it is expecting the first new development proposals to come in soon after the moratorium expires in July.
Also, Ms. Blackburn said the plan does not address some properties. And she said the town also may want to look at expanding its acquisition of development rights, to help preserve some properties.
Davidson town web page on the N.C. 73 area plan, including presentations, the text of proposed ordinance changes and other documents, CLICK HERE>
May 23, 2008, “Workshops Tuesday on N.C. 73 plan, IB school project”
Jan. 30, 2008, “Towns to show draft of N.C. 73 plan”
Oct. 27, 2007, “Planning begins for N.C. 73 area”