Development in town may get simpler
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Town planners and commissioners are proud of their high standards and strict development rules.
And now town officials are considering streamlining the process to ease development in Davidson while fighting to hold onto regulatory power.
Planning Manager Lauren Blackburn proposed changes to Davidson’s ordinance at the Tuesday, April 10, town board meeting that would simplify the process to develop in town and further the board’s goal of enabling economic development.
“Changes to our development process would be a make-or- break deal for developers of two projects coming before staff,” Blackburn said.
The process for developers lasts at least seven months with uncertainty in the timeline that often makes developing in Davidson unrealistic, town leaders said.
“Every month that ticks by, that’s their money (being spent),” Commissioner Laurie Venzon said.
The proposed changes would limit the time committees have to discuss projects and make the ordinance language clearer with less jargon and gray areas.
The planning manager would be able to approve development that follows ordinances and existing plans, while the town board would still vote on developer requests to tweak zoning.
“We need to improve our process,” Commissioner Brian Jenest said. “We have a terrible reputation (with developers). … Developers want predictability, so let’s give them predictability in our ordinance.”
Commissioner Rodney Graham was concerned about limiting public input and board control that holds development to high standards. He doesn’t want to expedite the process at the expense of quality, he said.
Development would have to follow the same standards and obtain design review board approval in the downtown area. The planning board will discuss these possible changes at their April 30 meeting.
Commissioners united in opposition of N.C. Senate Bill 731, which Blackburn said the N.C. House of Representatives will vote on at a rapidly approaching date, still to be determined.
The bill would limit town power to regulate design standards. Specifically, the bill would not allow Davidson to continue to mandate that garage doors be set back from homes, no closer to the street than the front of a house.
Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville officials signed resolutions opposing the bill a year ago. Now town officials say it looks like the bill will pass. They hope state congressmen will amend the bill to remove references to garage doors and allow jurisdictions to regulate design in higher density and conditional zoning areas, according to the resolution commissioners approved Tuesday.
In other town news
Planner Ben McCrary will serve as interim planning manager when Lauren Blackburn resigns to take a position with the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The board approved changes to the animal control ordinance. Changes include forbidding tethering of dogs unless an adult is present and allowing dogs at public events.
Mayor John Woods declared Sunday, April 15, Davidson Interfaith Day.