Final chances to debate land-use plan

WEDDINGTON – Leaders in Weddington want to give residents another chance to voice any concerns over the town’s newly revised land-use plan prior to voting on the plan next week.

Two public meetings will be held Thursday, April 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. and before the regular town council meeting on April 8, a Monday, from 6 to 7 p.m. Council is expected to vote on the plan at the April 8 meeting.

Any resident can address concerns or ask questions related to the land-use plan at the public forums.  The final version of the land-use plan will be available on the town’s website for residents to view before the public meetings, according to town leaders.

After spending nearly three months focusing on revisions, Town Manager Jordan Cook said no large-scale changes have been made – something he said residents expressed they wanted through discussions and a town survey. Although next week’s events are the first formal public meetings on the land-use plan, many residents have attended council workshops on the topic and were able to suggest possible changes then.

“The survey was the first bit of public comment and then through all of these workshops and meetings we had a large amount of the public come up and say they didn’t want any changes,” Cook said.

Weddington leaders sent out the land-use plan survey at the end of last year to gauge the wants and needs of residents.  In the survey, about 61 percent of the 659 respondents said the preservation of open space was very important, about 45 percent said limiting non-residential growth was very important and about 53 percent said low density residential growth was important – all things the council took into account when deciding whether to make changes to the land-use plan.

The town has operated under the same land-use plan since 2002, so leaders thought it was time to update the plan to keep up with recent growth and development seen throughout the area.  Council’s main focus while discussing changes was altering the land-use map, where councilmembers discussed where they would like to see development.

According to Mayor Walker Davidson one of the major decisions the council had to make was whether to keep their “one house per acre” strategy or shift into something new to allow for more affordable residential development.  Council decided it was best to keep the policies as they were.

Another issue council discussed in detail was commercial development in the town and if they should push for commercial growth or keep things the way they are.  Cook said although all councilmembers had ideas about where development should go, in the end making changes without specific plans for development was not something they felt comfortable doing.

“I think that without any site specific plans, I don’t think (the council) wanted to start arbitrarily changing parcels,” he said.

Although no plans for changes or future development have been made, the land-use plan is not set in stone and will only be used as a guideline.  If the council sees a need for policy changes, like with the one house per acre rule, or changes in commercial development, they can address those issues at a later date.

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