MATTHEWS – For the last few years, Matthews officials have been working on a way to consolidate the town’s zoning ordinance, area plan and development regulations into a single document, the Unified Development Ordinance.
The actual document is massive – Mayor Jim Taylor at the meeting held up what must have been a 4-inch binder containing the ordinance – but in theory it would prevent the town and developers from having to consult numerous documents when planning future development in the town.
Its simplicity could be its undoing, though, if the three people who spoke at Monday night’s Board of Commissioners meeting have their say. They don’t have a problem with the consolidation of regulations; they take issue with the exclusive nature of the ordinance.
Specifically speaking about the Entertainment District section of the UDO, the three men lamented that if a planned development doesn’t match exactly what is allowed in the ordinance, it can’t even be discussed. The Entertainment District would be developed over time on 110 acres on near Interstate 485 in Matthews.
“The design requirements are very strict,” Louis Stephens, a managing director in the Charlotte office of Jones Lang LaSalle, said of the ordinance. “We’d rather bring you ideas with what the market wants and ask, ‘What should we change?’ The UDO is a goal, but at the end of the day, we’d like to be able to bring you a design and talk about it, but that’s not how the UDO is written.”
Some of the design requirements for the Entertainment District in the UDO are four-sided architecture, which would require windows and doors on all four sides of a development; and parking not visible to the public.
Bob Henderson, an attorney with Charlotte-based law firm Guthrie, Davis, Henderson & Staton who represents one of the land owners where the Entertainment District would go, said he would like to see a little leeway in definitions used in the ordinance.
“We’d like to see provisions for innovative developments,” he said. “Let’s expand the definition of Entertainment District. Without that option, even if you liked a proposal, you wouldn’t have the legal authority to obtain it.”
Taylor said the UDO will be passed along to the town’s planning and zoning department for their review within the next two weeks. After that review, the UDO will be returned to the Board of Commissioners for a vote.
Also at Monday’s meeting, commissioners approved a site plan to allow the development of an indoor shooting range in the town, at 10726 Monroe Road. Expected to open in the fall of 2014, Point Blank Range will have 20 shooting lanes across three bays for pistol, rifle and shotgun use. The range will also have two training classrooms.