By CHUCK McSHANE
Davidson commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved scrapping the town’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and also hinted at support for a zoning change that would allow an auto repair shop on Davidson Gateway Drive, near the Harris Teeter.
The APFO, which the town adopted in 2001, has come under fire from developers who argue that it can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home. Courts have struck down similar ordinances in Union County and Cary, ruling that APFOs are effectively “impact fees,” which are not allowed under North Carolina law.
Davidson also has faced legal challenges. Several years ago, the developer of the Summers Walk neighborhood off NC 73 challenged the town’s ordinance in a lawsuit. The town eventually settled that suit, leaving the ordinance intact, but reducing the developer’s payment to a fraction of the more than $1 million owed.
The ordinance required developers to share the cost of additional fire and police protection, public parks or other public services needed because of their projects. A formula, tied to the town’s Capital Improvement Plan, or CIP, assessed the developer for a portion of the cost of a published town “needs list” at the time projects were approved.
Planning Director Ben McCrary said the town was at or above capacity for all planned projects.
“We either meet or exceed capacity,” Mr. McCrary said. “If a new development came in, there would be no need for that development to advance those services.”
Commissioner Laurie Venzon expressed concern over how long the town would remain at or over capacity in the wake of a large project.
“What would happen if something came here and it tipped us over the capacity?” Commissioner Venzon asked.
“It would have to be pretty large – a few hundred units – to bring us over the edge,” Town Manager Leamon Brice said.
The removal of the APFO is part of a larger revision of the town’s planning ordinance. Some commissioners expressed urgency at replacing the APFO with some other mechanism to help pay for infrastructure and facilities needs.
“It seems in this we need to move quite expeditiously,” Commissioner Jim Fuller said.
Mr. McCrary said the revised ordinance was scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.
“We could take action on the growth-related ordinances first,” Mr. McCrary said. “It may be cleaner to do the whole ordinance at the same time.”
Commissioner Connie Wessner said Davidson wasn’t abandoning its commitment to sustainable development by removing the APFO from the books.
“This is not at all a step away from smart growth practices.” Ms. Wessner said.
Over the past decade or so, residential developers have paid the town tens of thousands of dollars in APFO assessments. As of last month, the town had $502,413 in its various APFO accounts, most of it – nearly $421,000 – in a fund to pay for parks.
APRIL 9 VOTE PLANNED ON AUTO REPAIR SHOP
Commissioners also held a public hearing on a conditional use permit for a proposed auto repair shop near the Harris Teeter grocery store at Exit 30. Woodie’s Auto Service and Repair Shop proposes building a 12,000 square foot building at Davidson Gateway and Peninsula Drive, behind Community School of Davidson.
A master plan for the area requires buildings to have at least two active floors. Woodie’s proposal includes a partial second story on the office side of the building with second story windows above the auto service bays.
“It just seemed infeasible that we would have office space above where you have grinding and people working on cars,” Steven Overcash of Overcash Demmit Architects. “If (Woodie’s) was ever to leave, we would add office over retail.”
The Planning Board voted 8-1 against recommending the rezoning in February, and planning staff recommended against the exception earlier this month. Planning staff and the Planning Board both said the tax value of a building with only one active floor would be lower than one with two active floors.
But some commissioners and others noted that Davidson doesn’t currently have an auto repair shop in town. They said the project would keep money in town, create jobs, and increase foot traffic in the stores surrounding Harris Teeter.
“Anybody who lives in Davidson leaves Davidson to get their car repaired,” Commissioner Rodney Graham said. “What is the value of that?”
Other buildings in the area, such as Harris Teeter and Rushco Davidson Market convenience store, have only a partial active second story.
“There is a time and place for conditional use permits,” Mayor John Woods said.
The Town Board will vote on the conditional use permit at its April 9 meeting.
Woodie’s Auto Service is a family-owned group of repair shops in the Charlotte area, founded in 1962 by Ernest Woodie. Under his sons Brad and Mike Woodie, the company has grown to a network of shops around Charlotte.
Find more about the Davidson Woodie’s project on the town website.
In other actions Tuesday, the board:
- Voted unanimously to create a Capital Improvement Plan project fund for the Potts-Sloan Connection road project. The project fund will transfer $233,000 from the town’s General Fund to the project fund. Construction would begin construction in 2015.
- The board unanimously approved a legislative agenda, a list of priorities for the coming state legislative sessions. The board will push for legislation to make some MI-Connection Communications System information private and to use electronic media to publish public notices. The board will also seek requirements for residential fire sprinklers and oppose legislation restricting the power of towns to control new housing aesthetics.
- The Board unanimously approved a priorities list for federally funded Community Development Block Grants. Leading the priorities list was a proposed partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership to purchase and renovate the Lakeside Apartments to use as permanent affordable housing units. Second on the list was bathroom renovations for the Ada Jenkins Center.
Find the March 12, 2013, town board agenda on the town website, along with related documents.
Feb. 23, 2011, “Town, Summers Walk developer settle APFO suit.”
See previous coverage of Davidson’s APFO on DavidsonNews.net.