A Map Amendment is the official process by which a property's Planning Area designation is changed. In other communities, this term is referred to as a "rezoning." Since the Town of Davidson utilizes a form-based code, which emphasizes a building's orientation on its lot and its architecture in addition to its use, the Town uses the comprehensive term "Planning Areas" in place of the strictly use-based term "zoning" to refer to a property's land use designation. These Planning Areas are illustrated in the Davidson Planning Ordinance's Planning Areas Map; therefore, changes to the map are referred to as Map Amendments. Below is information about the most recent Map Amendments proposed.
A Text Amendment is the official process by which the language of the Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO) is changed. The DPO includes the guidance, rules, and regulations governing planning and development within town limits, as well as the town's extra-territorial jurisdiction - areas outside the town limits but within Davidson's planning jurisdiction that are subject to the standards. The standards represent legally-enforceable measures to implement adopted plans and manage development projects. Proposed changes generally encompass: Clarifying existing standards; outlining new criteria and/or instituting best practices; correcting errors and/or inadvertent omissions; and, aligning the ordinance with state statutes. The DPO is a living document updated consistently; it reflects years of collective experiences and incorporates this knowledge along with best practices to ensure a high quality of life for citizens.
Conditional Planning Areas Under Review (August 2020)
The town is currently reviewing two possible Conditional Master Plans (i.e. Conditional Planning Areas). A virtual public hearing for each is scheduled during the August 25, 2020 Board of Commissioners meeting.
- Davidson Cottages - The proposal includes 30 single-family detached homes and two duplexes fronting Davidson Gateway Dr. and publicly-accessible internal courtyards (34 units total). Additionally, the plan proposes a trail connecting throughout the property and a small gathering space along the sidewalk towards the southwestern corner. Please see the Davidson Cottages development project webpage for additional information.
- Lake Forest Davidson - The applicant proposes a conditional planning area map amendment to allow for a 3-story commercial building fronting South Main Street (20,000-30,000 square feet) and a 2-story church facility (minumum 20,000 square feet) toward the rear of the property. The proposed plan also preserves the existing single-family home located at 496 South Main Street for church offices. Please see the Lake Forest Davidson development project webpage for additional information.
Chapter 160D Changes: Section 14.18, Appeals & Variances
In 2019, the North Carolina General Assembly adopted a complete reorganization of the state’s planning and development regulations creating a new statute chapter “160D.” The purpose of the new Chapter 160D is to consolidate county and city regulations into one unified chapter and to reorganize development regulation statutes into a more logical, coherent structure. Towns must make ordinance changes to align with the provisions in G.S. 160D by July 1, 2021.
Among the regulatory changes under the new chapter 160D, the section regulating appeals & variances has been relocated from chapter 160A-388 to chapter 160D-705. Additionally, the section regulating quasi-judicial procedures, of which appeals & variances must conform to, has been drawn out of the appeals & variance section, and placed in chapter 160D-406. Generally, the process and four findings of fact under which variances are granted and denied by local Boards of Adjustment have remained the same. Fact 2, however, has been updated to allow variances to accommodate individuals with disabilities protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA). Before this change, hardships resulting from personal circumstances, including disabilities, were not a valid basis for variances.
These proposed text amendments will align Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO) Section 14.18, “Appeals and Variances,” with 160D-705 and 160D-406. These changes primarily consist of replacing references to the old legislation with the references to the new legislation, and removing all language that is in conflict with state statute. Additionally, these proposed changes include a more substantial reference to the four findings of fact under which variance requests are reviewed, the inclusion of disability accommodation protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act as grounds for a variance, and several small formatting improvements for Section 14.18. This is the first of several rounds of text amendments designed to bring the DPO into alignment with chapter 160D.
Proposed DPO changes to Section 14.18 + Section 15: Draft DPO Text
On October 27, 2020, the Board of Commissioners held a virtual Public Hearing to discuss the proposed amendment. The public were encouraged to provide comment. Following this hearing, the changes will go to the Planning Board at their November 30, 2020 meeting for a recommendation, and then to the Board of Commissioners on December 8 for a decision.
December 8: Board of Commissioners Action
November 30: Planning Board Recommendation
October 27: Board of Commissioners Public Hearing
October 13: Board of Commissioners Work Session
Targeted Conditional Zoning (2019-2020)
The Board of Commissioners directed staff to explore strategies to better control the pace of development – specifically targeted conditional zoning. Staff brought information to the Board in July 2019 and was directed to explore creative strategies to implement a targeted conditional requirement for residential development.
Davidson is not immune to growth pressures, which seem to have amplified in recent years. The regional economy remains strong and Davidson is an attractive place to live—the college, historic buildings, and intentional design/regulations contribute largely to this. Davidson has had success in determining what type of development should go where; Davidson has not had much success in controlling the timing of development. Implementing a targeted conditional zoning mechanism could improve the town’s ability to better control the pace of development, while simultaneously providing opportunities to secure specific town goals—such as affordable housing units constructed. Implementing targeted conditional thresholds would provide the Board of Commissioners greater control over approvals that were previously administrative.
Planning staff analyzed development patterns over the last 20 years in the Village Infill, Neighborhood Edge, and Rural Planning Areas –those deemed to be most susceptible to residential development pressure. In November 2019, staff presented the Board options on dwelling unit and acreage thresholds based upon these data metrics including high, medium, and low thresholds for targeted conditional triggers. The Board provided direction using the lower numbers. All options assume the existing planning area designation as a baseline for any development proposal. Staff developed initial draft text and shared it with the PBOC (Planning Board Ordinance Committee) to solicit input.
After a several-months pause due to the health pandemic, staff revisited targeted conditional with the BOC at their July work session meeting to share with them the draft text developed based upon the direction given in November 2019. Commissioners provided new feedback targeting a more conservative threshold approach and also added Lakeshore Planning Area to the mix.
In summary, proposed thresholds listed in the Planning Areas below would trigger a conditional approval by the Board of Commissioners:
Planning Area Targeted Threshold
Village Infill Planning Area: 8 or more dwelling units
Lakeshore Planning Area: 8 or more dwelling units
Neighborhood Edge Planning Area: 36 or more dwelling units OR 35 or more acres
Rural Planning Area: 36 or more dwelling units OR 15 or more acres
The draft text amendments include proposed changes to Section 2 (Planning Areas) and Section 14 (Administration and Procedures).
UPDATE (September 2020):
Staff hosted two virtual Public Input Sessions in August and September. Feedback collected at those meetings is included in the Public Input Session Report below. Staff shared feedback from the first Public Input Session with the Board of Commissioners at their September work session. The board directed staff to slow down the process and create a Planning Board subcommittee to explore other growth management tools and to reevaluate the proposed targeted conditional text amendments. The Planning Board subcommittee will report back to the Board of Commissioners in the coming months (TBD).
Please see the following for additional information regarding these proposed changes. The Proposed Changes documents list the proposed ordinance text with explanatory comments in the right margin.
Proposed DPO Changes to Sections 2 + 14:
Draft DPO Text
9/24/2020 Consolidated Public Input Session Report
8/27/2020 Public Input Session
9/15/2020 Public Input Session
7/27/2020 Planning Board Presentation
8/27/2020 Public Input Session Presentation
9/15/2020 Public Input Session Presentation
TBD: BOC action
TBD: Planning Board recommendation
TBD: BOC public hearing
September 15, 2020: 2nd Public Input Session
September 8, 2020: Staff will provide an update on the Public Input Session comments to the BOC.
August 28, 2020: Staff hosted a virtual Public Input Session and will produce a Public Input Session Report in the coming days. See the Documents section above for a copy of the presentation and accompanying video.
July 2020: Staff provided an update to the Planning Board, who recommended further consideration and public engagement.
July 2020: Staff reengaged the Board of Commissioners on the targeted conditional zoning topic at their work session after a several-month pause due to the pandemic. Staff provided text based upon direction given in November 2019 for Village Infill, Neighborhood Edge, and Rural Planning Areas. Commissioners provided new feedback targeting a more conservative threshold approach and also added Lakeshore Planning Area to the mix.
May 2020: Staff provided an update to the Planning Board.
Spring 2020: Working with the Planning Board Ordinance Committee (PBOC), staff developed draft DPO text language based upon the direction given by the BOC.
March 2020: Draft BOC Strategic Plan includes the action item: “Implement targeted conditional zoning.”
January 2020: Davidson Comprehensive Plan Adopted. Recommended implementation actions include: “Consider thresholds for targeted application of conditional master planning process.” (Policy 2.1.4)
November 2019: Staff analyzed development patterns in the Village Infill, Neighborhood Edge, and Rural Planning Areas over the last 20 years looking at number of dwelling units and acreage of developments. At the work session, staff presented a menu of metrics which looked at unit count and parcel acreages. Staff presented high, medium, and low thresholds for targeted conditional triggers based upon existing development patterns, as well as hybrid options. The BOC provided direction that favored using the lower numbers.
September 2019: At their work session, the BOC provided feedback on a variety of threshold options provided by staff. This included focusing on the Village Infill, Neighborhood Edge, and Rural Planning Areas –those planning areas identified by staff as experiencing the most growth pressure and not including commercial development.
July 2019: At the BOC work session, staff presented targeted conditional as a potential growth management tool. The BOC asked staff to develop further.
Fall 2018/Spring 2019: Staff engaged a consultant to examine growth management tools/implications; conditional thresholds were recommended.
Spring 2018: Board of Commissioners (BOC) adopts Strategic Plan in 2018 directing staff to review areas on the “cusp of development” and examine tools to slow growth/share implications.
Public Notification Opportunities
Public Input Session, September 15, 2020: Town of Davidson planning staff will host another Virtual Public Input Session to solicit feedback on the proposed Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO) text amendments related to Targeted Conditional Zoning. The Public Input Session will be held Tuesday, September 15, 2020 from 6-7:30 p.m. on Zoom. Staff will give a presentation on the proposed text amendments; a moderated question and answer session will follow via the chat function. To participate in the meeting, please use the link: https://tinyurl.com/DavidsonPublicInput9152020 to register or join by phone at (646) 558-8656 (Webinar ID: 850 2683 1157). If you choose, you may also text questions during the Public Input Session to 704-251-9441. Lastly, you may also submit comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org (please include “Targeted Conditional” in the subject line). Information gathered at the Public Input Session will be shared with the board of commissioners.
Town of Davidson Newsletter: August 2020
Planning Department Monthly E-Crier: February 2020, July 2020, August 2020
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