Wednesday, March 9, 2016

100% of public hearing speakers oppose West Branch rezoning!

Unfortunately, that 100% opposition came from a grand total of two, yes, only TWO people who showed up to speak Tuesday night.

That small turnout is a bit surprising considering how well attended the West Branch public information session was just last month.

The likelihood of a major change to the overall master plan due to the requested zoning change to the "neighborhood services" section is minimal.  That's due to how the underlying zoning was setup.  That also probably contributed to why so few people chose to show up.

In the end, the developer will likely get what they want.

Nonetheless, the speakers did raise some good points.

The first speaker pointed out that reducing the size of any future commercial development by more than 50% works against Davidson's goal of building walkable communities.  At under 5 acres the reduced site will likely never attract enough or the kinds of businesses to significantly reduce car trips.  (Regardless of size the Neighborhood Services designation doesn't allow a grocery or gas station, so that may be a foregone conclusion.)

The second speaker mentioned that the new site will also be placed in the front of the neighborhood and not necessarily act as an attractive entryway - drawing people into the neighborhood center.  The current shape of the neighborhood services prior to the requested change would do that.

The second speaker also brought up the possibility that the town might pursue better protection of the existing greenway next to the development as a condition of approving this rezoning.  Whether that's possible is unclear, but it would be nice to see the town push for that

What was interesting about both of these speakers is that they were relative newcomers to Davidson who live near the proposed development.  They were there on their own.

The "usual suspects" when it comes to development issues in town were nowhere to be found Tuesday night.

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