Zoning

 

Land Uses in Mineral Springs are governed by our Zoning Ordinance and our Subdivision Ordinance. These ordinances became effective on April 1, 2002, by vote of the town council. When we developed our ordinances, we also were required by North Carolina statute to develop a land use plan. In order to meet the minimum statutory requirement, we simply created a map that reflected current Union County zoning on the parcels within the town and designated that map as our land use plan.

The zoning and subdivision ordinances were drawn from the existing Union County Land Use Ordinance, and zoning and subdivision ordinances from the Town of Weddington and the Village of Wesley Chapel. Our Planning Review Committee, which evolved into our Planning Board, worked for over a year with the Centralina Council of Governments adapting these existing ordinances to fit the needs of Mineral Springs. The zoning map itself was not changed from that of Union County. Our citizen planners attempted to make the ordinances very friendly to home-based businesses (with some limits to protect the rights of neighbors of those businesses) and to make them reflect our small-town values by limiting some commercial uses and by encouraging agricultural uses including horse farms.

Although the citizen volunteers made every effort to tailor the ordinances to Mineral Springs, they were not created from scratch and are certainly not perfect. In the years since adoption, some changes were made. The planning board, responding to citizen input, made numerous technical changes. Under my leadership, several key provisions were added to the ordinances: "welcoming streetscapes"and the Downtown Overlay district.  The "welcoming streetscapes" provisions require any new houses built on lots that abutted main streets (thoroughfares) to face those streets. So much of the development taking place throughout Union County features houses placed close to the thoroughfares, with their back yards facing the street. This configuration is generally accepted to be less attractive than traditional front yards, and in fact it offers less privacy to residents who usually use their back yards for entertaining and family activities. But developers love this cheap, easy subdivision design. 

The Downtown Overlay district was adopted after months of work by your planning board. This set of guidelines specifies traditional storefront retail design within a small area of downtown Mineral Springs. The guidelines will allow our town to avoid the blight of big-box "commercial sprawl", and to instead enjoy a beautiful downtown retail center with storefront-based buildings located on a grid of streets with sidewalks and attractive and safe areas for pedestrians. More and more enlightened towns are either restoring older, turn-of-the century downtowns, or are successfully creating new downtowns on this timeless pattern of architectural excellence. See "downtown" for additional information on this topic. 

It had become clear that our ordinances needed even more major improvements, so your town council enacted a moratorium on major residential subdivisions from May 12, 2005 through November 1, 2006; it was renewed, once, through March 1, 2007. This moratorium allowed the UNCC Community Design Class to complete an exhaustive design project for the town, and mandated a pause in any new subdivision construction until your town council and planning board modified the ordinances to realize these design visions. Based on community input, it was clear that our ordinances badly needed some environmental protections, including a tree ordinance, creek buffer requirements, and better open space protection. In fact, the destructive clearcutting, buldozing, blasting, and land clearing you can see taking place along Billy Howey Road would have been permitted under our original ordinances. 

Just prior to the expiration of our moratorium, on February 26, 2007, the town council under my leadership adopted the first major overhaul of our zoning and subdivision ordinances since their original adoption. Two new provisions place Mineral Springs at the forefront of sustainable long-term planning: Conservation Subdivision Design and lowering of overall residential density. These two provisions work together to protect the environment, create better subdivision design, and ultimately increase property values. 

New densities of 1 house per either 1.5 acres ("RR" zoning district) or 2 acres ("AR" zoning district) are now the standard in most of the town except areas near downtown. In a conservation subdivision, a landowner may still build on lots as small as 40,000 square feet, but must "set aside" for permanent preservation the most environmentally significant portions of the tract. As a result, at least 1/3 of the property is designated for conservation in the RR district, and at least 1/2 is designated for conservation in the AR district.

Again, I am proud of these new provisions, adopted by the town council under my leadership. Contrary to what my opponents have feared, we are experiencing more demand by developers than ever before - except now they are developing low-density subdivisions with large conserved areas. The quality of development now occurring in Mineral Springs is increasing, resulting in increased property values for all landowners. Our two most recently-approved conservation subdivisions are both owner-occupied, proving that building to Mineral Springs standards creates a subdivision that the developers themselves choose as the homes for their families. You just don't see the developers of the ugly, sprawling "storage facilities for people" springing up all over Union County living in their own "creations".

 


HOME ABOUT ISSUES LINKS FAQ'S GROWTH CONTACT