UDO a go in Matthews

By: Payton Guion, staff writer//December 12, 2013//

UDO a go in Matthews

By: Payton Guion, staff writer//December 12, 2013//

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MATTHEWS – In the final meeting of the outgoing Board of Commissioners in this suburban Charlotte town, board members unanimously approved a “unified development ordinance” that will have a lasting impact on planning and zoning in the town.

Commissioner Suzanne Gulley, who was on her way off the board, said creating and passing the UDO has been years in the making.

Two weeks ago, the Matthews Planning Board unanimously recommended that the commissioners approve the UDO – which combines zoning, subdivision, storm water, minimum housing and flood prevention regulations into a single development code. Commissioners on Monday night took that advice.

The UDO goes into effect April 1 and Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor said the commissioners and town staff will be nitpicking and fine-tuning the ordinance until that date. Any and all changes to the text of the ordinance will have to gain approval of the Board of Commissioners before an amendment can be made. On Monday, the commissioners suggested the following changes:

  • The following uses would be removed as a by-right use in the UDO: Group homes, adult care facilities, assisted living facilities, material coverings, armories, auction houses, funeral homes, pet cemeteries and accessory crematoriums.
  • The section of the ordinance regarding firing ranges would be modified to say that the noise from within a firing range should not exceed 40 decibels as measured from the property line.

Those changes were suggested along with the board’s approval of the following suggestions previously made 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 commissioners on Tuesday continued a discussion 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. The ordinance will likely be rewritten to include language about “public spaces.”
  • 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 board wants developers to help solve any parking problems. 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.

Following the vote on the UDO and other town business, the Town Board that will head Matthews until 2015 was sworn in. Those commissioners are John Higdon, Christopher Melton, Jeff Miller, Joe Pata, John Ross and Kress Query. Only Miller and Query are holdovers from the previous board.

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