Staff have been working with planning board members, citizens, and the board of commissioners to draft text revisions to Section 17 of the Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO), whose regulations govern parcels within town near Lake Norman. The standards apply to properties within 0.5 mi. of the lake (i.e. the "critical area"), which is generally everything west of Main Street because topographically, water flows in that direction. The standards, in place since 1993, maintain clean water in Lake Norman by requiring vegetative buffers and limiting the amount of "built-upon-area" (BUA) placed on a lot, residential or non-residential. The fewer buffers and more BUA a lot contains, then the more runoff containing dirt, fertilizer, chemicals from cars, etc. washes off onto our streets and gets into the lake. BUA is hardscape surfaces like a driveway or building footprint; it is not things like fences or decks that have grass underneath.
In March 2017, Mecklenburg County, our partner in administering the ordinance (with oversight from the NC Department of Environmental Quality, “NCDEQ”), requested that Davidson:
• Update/clarify standards,
• Address persistent issues and inconsistencies and,
• Remove inapplicable sections.
To help address these requests, the citizen-led planning board formed an ordinance committee (a.k.a. the PBOC) in January 2018 to work closely with staff and citizens to review the watershed ordinance and proposed changes, and to suggest/draft edits. Over the past several months these volunteers have worked to further tailor the watershed standards to fit Davidson’s unique circumstances while doing our part to safeguard the town’s drinking water supply. Highlights include:
• Alignment with state law (required by NCDEQ),
• Consistent treatment of similar lot types,
• Support of adopted plans and policies and,
• Reinforcing the character of existing streets and buildings.
Some specific amendments that pertain directly to Davidson are:
• For expansions to existing structures in the critical area of the watershed, we’d like to require enhancements to encourage rain water management on-site such as rain gardens and French drains.
• Remove exemptions for lots of record; we had hoped to allow long-standing owners prior to 1993 to be exempt from built-upon area limits, but we cannot make ordinances based on tenure.
• Since our downtown is in the critical area of the watershed, we’d like to make an amendment that allows for flexibility in meeting watershed requirements on the block bounded by Main/Depot/Jackson Streets.
• Increase the authority of our board of adjustment when they are approached with built-upon area averaging cases.
Citizen feedback received by the PBOC the past several months has been instrumental in improving the proposed amendments. In fact, most revisions over this period have come directly from citizen input. For more information about the proposed text amendments, please see the town’s text amendment webpage (http://www.townofdavidson.org/textamendments).
Additionally, citizens are invited to contact Planning Technician Lindsay Laird in the planning department at firstname.lastname@example.org with specific questions. A public hearing is scheduled for the board of commissioners regular meeting on May 8. The Davidson Board of Commissioners could consider a vote at a future meeting.