Friday, January 11, 2008

Some Notes Regarding Proposed Development

These notes were provided by George Brine who is on the planning commission:


Please feel free to share these notes with anyone you think would be interested. I know that some of you have a much bigger contact list than I do.

I looked at my copy of the Comprehensive Plan when I got home last night. Looking at map 4.2 (Tiers), it appears that the Urban Growth Boundary (which is at the Durham/Chatham county line east of NC 751 where Jordan at Southpoint is proposed) takes a turn north at NC 751. It appears that it then turns west at Stagecoach Road (although the smallness of the map makes it hard to see), crosses New Hope Creek and the ACE lands, then jogs south almost to the Chatham County line before turning north when it encounters another piece of the Jordan watershed. The area south of the Urban Growth Boundary is in the Rural Tier. If I have the Stagecoach Road boundary right, then any part of the site that is south of Stagecoach Road and west of NC 751 is out of the Urban Growth Boundary and in the Rural Tier. Thus, Mr. Byker may have partially misspoken last night when he said that the site was in the Urban Growth area.

A further bit of information is found in the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), paragraph 4.4.5 (that describes the mixed use [MU] zoning district). The last sentence reads as follows: "The MU District is used to implement the Comprehensive Plan within those areas shown as the Suburban, Urban, Compact Neighborhood or Downtown Tiers". Note that the Rural Tier is not included.

On my next trip to the Planning Department, I will double check where the Urban Growth Boundary is for sure, because it could have a huge bearing on this proposal.

A note about Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA). One is required for the proposed rezoning. TIAs are reviewed by the City of Durham transportation staff and by NC DOT. The latter review takes time. I talked to a representative of the John R. McAdams Co on January 8, and he told me that they are estimating 12 month delays for NC DOT review of TIAs. Since these reviews can also lead to more required improvements than the applicant is expecting, they could cause even further delays while the applicant decides what to do. Both the City and NC DOT have some leverage (City - utilities; NC DOT - driveway permits) in getting improvements. Thus, the estimate that the rezoning case probably will not go forward for at least 8 months is reasonable and maybe optimistic.

Rezoning requests that are not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan cannot be approved. Basically, this means that the proposed rezoning must be consistent with the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) shown in the Comprehensive Plan. The proposed rezoning in this case is not consistent. Thus, the applicant must file a Plan Amendment Case to change the FLUM. That is why there are two cases (plan amendment and rezoning) associated with this request.

The UDO requires that staff bring cases forward when they are ready. However, the UDO also gives applicants the option to have a plan amendment case held until the rezoning case is ready. (Plan amendment cases are typically ready to go long before rezoning cases when a TIA is involved.) Hearing a plan amendment case and a rezoning case concurrently has some advantages because most folks who come to the public hearing have concerns about traffic, buffers, density, environment, school impact, etc. which are fine to address at the rezoning level but are more difficult to assess at the plan amendment level. However, applicants often opt to go forward with a plan amendment case in advance of a rezoning case because it can give them a "read" on how the public feels about the proposal. If the plan amendment case is denied by the Governing Body (in this case, the BOCC), the rezoning case goes away.

I do not know what the applicant will decide to do in this case. However, it is important to be aware that the plan amendment case here could go forward months before the rezoning case. (I'll certainly let you know when it hits the planning commission agenda.)

If the applicant plans to file the cases next week, it means that he has a Development Plan pretty much in hand because he must file it with the rezoning request. (Given that, why did he not want to show it last night?) Once the cases are filed, they are a matter of public record and you can probably get a copy (which you'll have to pay for) from the Planning Department. Please be aware that Development Plans at this point in time have not been reviewed by staff and typically undergo some modification while going through the process.

Sorry to be long winded about this, but I felt that a few comments on procedural matters might be helpful. I'll be happy to try to answer questions that folks may have.



Anonymous said...

The Durham Comprehensive Plan is online:

It includes a map (Future Land Use Map, 8mb pdf) that details where the different zones are.

Sean Giovanello said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean said...

Thanks for the information - it certainly promises to be an interesting time ahead.

Anonymous said...

Will there be ongoing updates here on the blog about this situation? Just curious if this is the best site for new news.