Letter to the Editor
I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of the confusion over a recent change to the Town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP). This document was created in 2012 with a great deal of public input and adopted the same year. It is a visionary document intended to guide leaders as we consider future growth in the Town. Decisions about zoning and development should be consistent with the CLUP, as the Municipal Planning Commission (FMPC) and Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) consult this document on a regular basis.
As the desires and needs of the community change, the CLUP must be updated. In 2017, a CLUP steering committee was formed with the mission of looking at certain areas on the future land-use map to make necessary updates. The steering committee is made up of BOMA and FMPC members and citizens. The committee’s first project was to look at the north Watt Road area, where land owners had expressed interest in developing their property commercially. The neighbors participated in public meetings and expressed support for such development if appropriate transitions were in place.
When the committee solicited input from neighbors on possible commercial development on McFee Road near the park, neighbors participated to say they preferred that the area stay residential.
The proposed TopGolf development spurred the committee to consider new development on the Outlet Drive/Snyder Road corridor. After receiving little public feedback, the outcome was a new entertainment district.
A proposed Town Center development at the former Kroger site likewise prompted the committee to review the Mixed Use Town Center overlay. Public discussions of the proposed development began in March and the committee hosted public meetings in July and August to discuss possible changes to the Land Use Plan, but there was little public interest. A similar lack of interest continued as the project was discussed publicly at two Staff Developer meetings. Residents showed little interest in Mixed Use Town Center planning until September, when the topic blew up on social media. Much of what has been shared online has been incorrect, and I have spent a great deal of time addressing resulting citizen concerns via e-mail.
The most important thing for residents to understand is that the changes that were made to the Mixed Use Town Center description in the CLUP are intended to protect adjacent neighborhoods from high-density residential development. The current text was amended to say that high-density residential development should only happen within a Town Center project or adjacent to a Town Center project that does not abut existing residential communities. The proposed project doesn’t abut any residential areas, but there are other large parcels within the Mixed Use Town Center area that could accommodate such development, and they are adjacent to existing neighborhoods. This change protects those neighborhoods.
There are still many steps to be taken before a town center project could even proceed at the former Kroger site. A land study and a traffic study will have to be completed, along with a more detailed concept plan, and a request to rezone the site to accommodate the project would follow. As always, the public will be invited to give feedback, and I invite you all to take part in this public process.
Planning is vitally important to a community with high development standards, and it is an ongoing process. Your Town leaders want what the majority of residents want—a thriving, vibrant community that provides amenities that are attractive to residents and visitors alike. If we are to make this happen, we will have to work together.
Mayor Ron Williams