Town, bank near compromise on Davidson East development
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – After months of proposals and hearings, Davidson town officials and Community One Bank appear to be working closer to an agreement on new zoning for the failed 178-acre residential development known as Davidson East.
Though the two sides are still ironing out a specific proposal, Davidson Planning Director Lauren Blackburn outlined Tuesday night, Aug. 9, a mixed-use compromise proposal that would allow apartments, townhomes and even some single-family homes on parts of the property while also preserving other space for neighborhood retail development and light manufacturing and research-and-development sites.
The compromise and conceptual drawings Blackburn presented to the town board Tuesday night were developed after a two-day workshop Davidson planners held with all interested parties, including a CommunityONE project team, adjacent landowners and environmental activists.
Jeff Edge, who heads development for the Charlotte Chamber, and Jerry Broadway, director of the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corp., and endorsed the concept of the development.
While not suitable for a large manufacturing center – like the one ABB is building in Huntersville – Edge said the Davidson East property could be attractive to specialized firms or corporate offices that need 20,000 to 40,000 square feet of space but also will pay more to work in an area surrounded by green space with easy access to restaurants, dry cleaners and other day-to-day services.
As the giant N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis grows, the Davidson East development could attract spin-off companies or firms providing support services – “I call them white lab-coat guys,” Edge said – whose employees want to work and live near Lake Norman.
Walter Fields, speaking for the CommunityONE project team, thanked the town staff, particularly Blackburn, for devoting many hours to the project and working toward a plan that the town and a developer could accept.
The process began in January when the town planners brought a proposal to rezone the land for a mixed-used employment center, with the emphasis on jobs, not houses.
Former developer Frank Jacobus had the zoning he needed to build a 480-unit subdivision on the site that sits on the north side of N.C. 73 between Ramah Church and McAuley roads. But Jacobus defaulted on a $6 million loan, and CommunityONE Bank took over the property in late 2009.
CommunityONE objected to the town’s proposal and its experts said the site wouldn’t make a good business park. Officials with the Davidson Lands Conservancy also wondered what kind of changes a business park might bring to the site, which has streams and three high “bluffs.”
The town board delayed any decision, and the planning staff held the design workshop in June and multiple meetings since.
The development concept that has emerged, Blackburn pointed out, protects streams on the property and preserves greenway corridors into land.
The concept provides for four “layers” of development:
• A commercial-retail center on the northeast corner from the T-intersection of Ramah Church Road and N.C. 73.
• A mixed-used “neighborhood core” area surrounding retail center that would permit apartments and townhomes as well as more offices and businesses.
• The “employment center” that reaches from McAuley Road in large arc north and east.
• A smaller area for single-family homes north of the greenways that reaches Phase Five of River Run.
Police Department awarded international accreditation
Davidson Mayor John Woods and commissioners hailed the town’s police department Tuesday night after the department won highly-prized accreditation for an international law enforcement agency.
At an awards dinner in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 30, Davidson Police Chief Jeanne Miller and other officers accepted an award of accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA). Less than 1 percent of agencies comparable in size Davidson department achieve full accreditation, which requires the agency to prove it is adhering to 464 standards.
“Years of hard work and diligent preparation have finally paid off,” Miller said in a news release. “I am so proud of our department and its dedicated officers and staff, and I am very thankful for the support of our town manager, Leamon Brice, and our Board of Commissioners.”
The department began work on accreditation in 2008 and received formal Recognition Status from the accrediting organization that year. In late April and early May 2011, a team of assessors visited Davidson for three days to examine all aspects of the police department’s policies and procedures, management, operations and support services, as a part of gaining full accreditation.
Accreditation is good for three years, during which time the agency must submit annual reports attesting to continued compliance with those 464 standards. Find more information on the accreditation process at the town’s website, www.ci.davidson.nc.us/calea.