WAXHAW – After months of discussions, the Waxhaw Board of Commissioners approved proposed zoning changes to the historic downtown area during its Tuesday, Nov. 12, meeting.
The switch to what is called “form-based coding” will make the downtown area more commercial friendly, streamlining the process for new businesses and eliminating overbearing fees many people face when trying to move a business into Waxhaw. Commissioners hope the changes will encourage more developers and business owners to move to Waxhaw, bringing more retail options for residents and community members.
“Of course it’s going to have its challenges, but for the most part I think that we are in a much better place than with the old ordinances because they simply didn’t have the ability to have the control and the flexibility that those tools provide for us,” Mayor Daune Gardner said.
Many residents, especially those along King Street with property backing up to businesses on Old Providence Road, raised concerns about the zoning changes when they were first proposed. Others were concerned with specific uses that could be allowed in the downtown area, but according to Gardner, a majority of residents’ concerns have been worked through and resolved.
“Once we got the conversation rolling we made really good progress, and the result is that we ended up with a code that is going to work well with us,” Gardner said.
The four new form-based coding uses are Urban Neighborhood, Neighborhood Mixed-Use, Main Street and Town Center. Properties along South Main Street from Peyton Court to Hicks Street are now zoned Urban Neighborhood; from Hicks Street to the fork of North Main Street and Old Providence Road along South and North Main streets are zoned Main Street; along Providence Road are zoned Neighborhood-Mixed-Use and Town Center; properties along North Broome Street are zoned Town Center, Urban Neighborhood and Neighborhood-Mixed Use; and residential areas around the downtown area are now zoned Urban Neighborhood.
Building heights for Urban Neighborhood and Neighborhood Mixed-Use are limited to three stories or 45 feet, Main Street is limited to three stories or 54 feet and Town Center is limited to four stories or 72 feet.
“(The building heights) certainly are lower than what we started out with,” Gardner said.
Many residents were initially concerned about new development coming into the town, leading to tall, commercial buildings backing up to their homes.
Town leaders and staff will have to work with the recently created small area plans and form-based coding as Waxhaw moves forward to ensure the growth seen in town will be in harmony with what residents and community members want to see in the neighborhoods.
“The next step is continuing to work on detailing our plans and so forth, like our downtown small area plan and other small area plans that are coming to us,” the mayor said. “… We will look at those and begin to get a feel for how those are going to work for us.”