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Planning Board OKs Matthews’ Unified Development Ordinance

While board members took issue with details, they agreed with the “spirit” of the ordinance

MATTHEWS – The Matthews Planning Board last week nitpicked for nearly two hours at the town’s proposed Unified Development Ordinance before board member Chris Melton made a suggestion.Building plans heads together

“We could still be here this time tomorrow if we wanted to discuss every piece of the ordinance,” he said. “We all agree with the spirit of the document. We need to approve this as a document that will make planning better, that will make Matthews better.”

Given the immensity of the 300-page ordinance, they likely would’ve had to meet even longer if they were to go through each section. But with Melton’s prompting, Planning Board Chairman Jim Godfrey made a motion to recommend passing the UDO on to the town Board of Commissioners, which is set to take a final vote of Dec. 9.

Godfrey’s motion, with a few stipulations, passed the Planning Board unanimously.

If the town Board of Commissioners takes the Planning Board’s recommendation, the UDO will be effective as of Dec. 9, but won’t be enforced until a later date. In the meantime, the document is flexible and gives the town time to iron out some of the following concerns raised by the Planning Board:

  • As the ordinance is written, developments in an Entertainment District must have consistent materials, doors and windows on all sides of a building that face a public space. The Planning Board debated last night about what constitutes a public space. Developers have said there could be circumstances in which doors and windows on multiple sides of a building wouldn’t be necessary, as when a portion of a building faces an alley or a loading dock.
  • A portion of the ordinance says that developments that share parking must guarantee that they will work together in the future to determine how to handle parking additions. As development intensifies, surface lots may give way to new buildings and the Council wants developers to help solve the parking problem. Board members disliked the word “guarantee” and suggested changing the verbiage to come up with “strategies” for future parking.
  • For years, Matthews hasn’t had regulations about when and where to place real estate signs advertising homes for sale. The planning board, with influence from the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, thought it reasonable to recommend that signs could be placed at neighborhood entrances from 8 p.m. Friday to 5:30 a.m. Monday.

Kathi Ingrish, the town’s planning director, said the current Board of Commissioners typically has followed Planning Board recommendations, but added that it’s certainly a possibility the board could delay the decision until a new Town Board takes over.

It’s also possible, she said, that the Town Board could outright reject the UDO in its entirety, but said “we’ve been working on it since 2008,” and “I don’t expect it to go away forever

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