Lake Norman & Mooresville

Mooresville tightens development rules for Alcove Road

To prepare for growth, Mooresville has adopted rules to more closely control development along a major thoroughfare.

The regulations make up a special zoning district covering Alcove Road, a narrow, two-lane stretch running parallel to Interstate 77 that town planners say is ripe for development. Early last month, commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the zoning district.

The location of the road is “very strategic,” said Tim Brown, a senior planner for the town. It stretches a little less than 2 miles, between two major interchanges along I-77 exits 31 and 33.

The town already requires that developers make some road improvements to accommodate increased traffic, such as adding turn lanes or sidewalks.

But the zoning district, known as an overlay, superimposes additional standards on existing zoning rules. Meant to deter large-scale development, they set standards for businesses such as drive-through restaurants and auto dealerships.

As a result, developers must apply for a permit for commercial and retail properties containing more than 30,000 square feet, as well as for structures standing more than two stories tall and within 75 feet of a single-family neighborhood.

The idea, Brown said, is to “ensure that the caliber of development is in keeping with the context of that corridor in our community.” He noted the town has created such zoning districts for other areas, including sections of major thoroughfares, watersheds and historic districts such as the Mill Village.

The additional layer of regulation is part of a development policy covering the corridor that commissioners adopted in January. The policy, known as the Alcove Road Corridor Small Area Plan, encompasses a little more than 400 acres.

While it is subject to change – the town expects to revisit it after the design is released for a planned I-77 overpass that would connect Alcove and Fairview roads, Brown noted – the policy serves as a reference point for controlling development along other thoroughfares.

Among them is Cornelius Road, where construction of a new road that will connect it with Mazeppa Road is taking place and where the state plans to build an interchange along I-77, creating another exit.

As for the Alcove Road corridor, it has remained largely undeveloped. It includes some residential property but lined mostly with trees and vacant land.

But that is expected to change, especially as Mooresville has received an increasing number of inquiries from developers in recent years for properties in different parts of town.

“Things are picking back up,” said Craig Culberson, another senior planner for the town.

The road is seeing plans for one development project materialize.

At its intersection with Foundation Court, construction of a commercial building that will contain three stories and about 17,800 square feet is underway, as part of a planned mixed-use development comprising a little less than 9 acres. The developer, Alcove Langtree Properties LLC, is seeking to rezone the site for use as a village center. That request is set to go before commissioners for approval at a public hearing on April 6.

In addition to making road improvements, the developer would have to build part of a planned multipurpose path to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians in the corridor.

As part of the newly created zoning district, that requirement applies to all developers seeking to build there. The path would run parallel to Alcove Road, stretching about 10 feet wide and possibly meandering through neighborhoods.

“We’re looking for connectivity,” Commissioner Mac Herring said.

Accommodating cyclists and pedestrians has remained a focal point for Mooresville, which has installed bike lanes downtown and whose voters approved a bond referendum last spring to finance the building of sidewalks and other public improvements throughout town in coming years.

A multipurpose path along Alcove Road would further promote a “healthy and safer community,” Commissioner Bobby Compton said. He added that “as the area grows, there’s going to be more people, more activity.”

Jake Flannick is a freelance writer. Have a story for Jake? Email him at jacobflannick@gmail.com.

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