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Planning Department Updates: October 2019

Good Morning Davidson Community Members, 

This is the latest installment of the Planning Department “eCrier,” a message highlighting various plans, projects, and events currently or soon-to-be underway. Below you’ll find a list and short description of things that we’re working on, along with how to find additional information about each topic. We hope you find this information useful. If you want to follow up with us about any questions you may have, please do so – our contact information is available on our department’s homepage, which also contains this same list of information on a News tab at the top of the page. Check back from time to time for updates.

- Town of Davidson Planning Department


1. Mobility Plan: In August, the Board of Commissioners adopted the Davidson Mobility Plan. The Mobility Plan is a local comprehensive transportation plan (CTP) that provides a town-wide vision for projects, policies, and programs to manage congestion and improve multimodal travel within and through town. The vision of the Mobility Plan is to provide a balance and connected network of comfortable facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers. 

To achieve the plan’s vision, the document includes recommendations for policies, programs, and projects to encourage Davidsonians to think differently about mobility. This plan formed from extensive public engagement, feedback, and analysis over an 18-month process. Staff will begin work on implementing the Mobility Plan in the coming months. In the interim, the town will pursue grant funding for the following projects:  

Multi Use Paths:
• Grey Rd (From Town limits to Abersham).
• Potts-Sloan-Beaty Phase 2 (From Griffith Street to 115).

Planning Study:
• River Run to Summers Walk Greenway.

Intersection Improvement
• Beaty St and NC 115. 

Learn more and read the Mobility Plan at

2. Comprehensive Plan: The summer has come and gone, but throughout these past few months the project team has been hard at work on the comprehensive plan – the leading policy document that communities use to make decisions about their future. For more information on past events, visit This summer the Plan Advisory Group (PAG) – a steering committee comprised of residents, stakeholders, and elected officials – convened regularly to review and provide feedback on the policy framework, which served as an outline for the draft comprehensive plan. Their involvement since the public engagement process began in October 2018 has been instrumental in shaping public events and plan content. 

This Fall and Winter, the draft comprehensive plan will be presented in a series of meetings to the town’s advisory boards (Livability Board, Planning Board, Design Review Board, Affordable Housing Committee), elected officials, and public; feedback from each of these groups will be sought and the plan refined along the way. An official public comment period will also be included in the plan roll-out. Stay tuned for more details as the process moves forward.

3. Text Amendment: Davidson Planning Ordinance Section 9, Tree Preservation, Landscaping, & Screening: In 2018, the Board of Commissioners directed staff to draft changes to Section 9 of the Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO), which covers tree canopy, landscaping, and screening regulations. The original initiative to revise these standards dates to 2016, when the Livability Board produced a draft set of changes aiming to improve the preservation, establishment, and maintenance of tree canopy throughout town. Commissioners approved the text amendments at their September regular meeting. 

Prior to approval, for over a year staff worked closely with the Livability and Planning Boards to study Davidson’s tree canopy, review peer communities’ regulations, examine the ordinance’s current rules and processes, and update the standards accordingly. Building on both the 2018 Street Tree Inventory and the 2019 Tree Canopy Study, the revised standards reflect a calibrated approach to regulating trees. Further information on these studies is available on the Parks & Recreation webpage under Tree Canopy.

The revised standards also introduce a town arborist into the plan review and tree removal permitting processes. This staff position was included in the town’s FY2020 budget and will begin early next year. Going forward, the arborist will assist planning staff in reviewing development plans; ensure the on-going care and maintenance of resources identified in the Street Tree Inventory as well as other town-owned properties; and, assist landowners in receiving permits for tree removal or alteration. In each of these capacities the arborist will play an integrated, collaborative role – providing guidance how to maintain healthy trees and landscapes. It’s important to understand that the arborist’s role (along with the updated standards) is not to prohibit tree removal. Rather, they will help to actively manage this valuable and evolving resource identified by many as essential to our community’s high-quality of life. 

So, practically, what do the changes mean?
  • For landowners pursuing a master plan development, the tree coverage levels are now required minimums not target ranges – based on recent development projects, these new coverage levels are consistent with market-based residential projects under construction.
  • For landowners within town limits that want to remove a tree:  If the tree is larger than 12 inches, a tree removal permit and arborist consultation is required. However, there is no fee associated with this permit/service and, ultimately, tree removal is not prohibited.
  • For landowners outside of town limits that want to remove a tree (i.e. generally those in the “ETJ”), a tree removal permit is not required.
For both master plans and individual lots, the new standards include a revised schedule of civil penalties for violations related to trees and landscaping. These violations and penalties are listed in Section 15.3.1 of the DPO (Landscaping Violations). In all cases the civil penalty has increased significantly for violations in public or preserved spaces (i.e. the street right-of-way or tree save areas) as well as for repeated violations (i.e. more than one). In order to avoid a civil penalty, a tree removal permit is required for trees over 12 inches on properties within town limits.

Unsure about how these rules apply to your property? Please see the town’s Tree Permit or Tree Canopy webpages. For a full overview of the changes, see the agenda materials from the September 24, 2019 Board of Commissioners meeting. 

4. Text Amendment: Local Historic District Expansion: The Town of Davidson continues to explore the expansion of its local historic district, with a goal of preserving and protecting more historically significant structures. The current local historic district only includes the two to three blocks that comprise downtown. While a large portion of “old” Davidson is on the National Register of Historic Places, it is this smaller local district that contains the legal provisions to protect historic properties and guide historically-sensitive repairs and construction within its boundaries. 

The town hired a historic preservation consultant to determine which neighborhoods are most appropriate for local historic district designation. Following public input sessions and a windshield survey that took place this summer, the consultant provided a draft designation report. The report was reviewed by the town’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) at their September meeting, where the HPC gave a positive recommendation to send the draft report to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for review and comment. The HPC will then officially accept, reject, or amend the designation report. 

The town, with the approval of the Board of Commissioners, will then begin a map amendment process for the properties the consultant recommends to be incorporated into the local historic district. This process will include additional public input, a recommendation from the historic preservation commission and the planning board, a public hearing, and final board of commissioners’ approval.

Learn more here

5. Development Proposals:  
  • Davidson Gateway Building: A 3-Story mixed use building with rooftop event space is under development at 635 Davidson Gateway Drive. The proposed uses include a restaurant and office space. The Design Review Board approved the Building Schematic Design at its September meeting. Construction documents for this project have been approved by Mecklenburg County and the town. Read more about this project here.
  • Mayes Hall Master Plan: Following the project's master plan approval in March 2019, the project construction documents were approved in September 2019. It is anticipated that construction work (i.e. grading, infrastructure installation) will begin this fall. The plan envisions development of a residential subdivision with 66 units of single-family and duplex detached housing on approximately 24 acres. The development will also feature public open space, including a park and walking trails. For more information, including project documents, please see the project webpage.
  • Davidson Farms Master Plan: The project team submitted an application and preliminary sketch plan in April 2019. The master plan envisions 15 single-family detached home lots fronting existing and new interconnected streets as well as open spaces. The project team continues to make revisions to the plans based on initial review comments provide by Davidson and Mecklenburg County in the spring of 2019. A project schedule is currently being developed and will include a public input session and multiple rounds of Planning Board review and comment. For more information, including project documents, please see the project webpage.

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