Saturday, December 9, 2017

5 ideas for the new Davidson Board to improve land use policy

In a continuation of new ideas for the soon to be seated new Davidson Mayor and Board of Commissioners, here are 5 ideas on how the town can improve and protect Davidson's land use policy.

1.  Vote down or indefinitely table the "missing middle" concept from Davidson's Village Infill area.   As reported earlier, the outgoing Board has chosen not to vote on this at their last meeting.  The new Board should let that sleeping dog lie.  Davidson does not need more high-density development particularly in the Village area where the infrastructure is not designed to handle it.

2.  Remove "density averaging" as a concept in the planning ordinance.  Density averaging is a sleight of hand maneuver used by developers, to overcome limits on the amount of impervious surface allowed on a given parcel.  Simply put, impervious area on another parcel somewhere in the same drainage area is transfered to the target parcel allowing more dense development than would otherwise be allowed on the target parcel.  Density averaging permits are approved by the Board of Adjustment, a sub body of the Planning Board.

3.  Keep rural areas rural until development plans are available.  As part of this idea, the Board should do what is necessary to roll back the mass rezoning to Neighborhood General, Neighborhood Services, and Neighborhood Edge done earlier  this year as part of "implementing" the Rural Area Plan.

4.  Revisit the Comprehensive Plan and consider down zoning any large parcels to remove multi-family as a by right building type from the standard zoning areas.  This does not mean Davidson will never have more multi-family housing, but it would mean large scale multi-family proposals would need to go through the conditional zoning process which gives the town more control.

5.  The Town needs to put its money where its mouth  is when it comes to pushing back against aggressive developers.  A legal defense fund should be set up to stand behind a reinvigorated defence of the town planning ordinance by the staff and elected officials.  This fund can be seeded with $250,000 from the $1 million fund set aside for Mi-Connection subsidies owed Mooresville.  Developers need to know for certain they are in for a lengthy and expensive fight if they come with crazy proposals that don't fit with the town character.  Sometimes a credible threat of retaliation is the best way to avoid an actual confrontation.  This fund will provide that for the town.

Davidson's new Board has work to do to untangle the gordian knotted mess left by the soon to be previous elected officials.  These five ideas if implemented would cut right through it.

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