Mooresville is making headway in developing a comprehensive plan that would guide residential development in coming decades.
The initiative began in the spring and is entering its second phase, with the town outlining the types of data needed to extensively analyze current housing trends and project future market demand.
“It’s going according to plan,” Jim Prosser, executive director of the Centralina Council of Governments, said. The regional planning organization, or the CCOG, is overseeing what is becoming the first housing strategy of its kind in the greater Charlotte region.
The framework for the second phase includes taking inventory of the town’s housing stock, forecasting future housing prices and reviewing public comment. It was approved by commissioners in early August.
The goal of the initiative is to ensure that the town “has the right kind of housing available in the right places,” said a report on its first phase, which involved an initial round of public comment and the creation of three committees to help carry out the planning process.
Expected to be finished in the spring, the initiative is costing the town about $110,000 to develop.
In many ways, “Mooresville still is a small town,” Commissioner Eddie Dingler said.
But that is already starting to change.
Home to a growing number of seniors and families who are attracted to its school system, the town has experienced growth in recent years, with its population increasing from less than 33,000 in 2010 to a little more than 35,000 last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. And it’s expected to double in the next 15 years, officials say.
“As the housing market changes, new types of neighborhoods with greater diversity in housing styles, sizes, price ranges and amenities are required to meet the demand,” Mayor Miles Atkins was quoted as saying in the report on the initiative’s first phase.
To figure out how to accommodate that anticipated growth, the CCOG plans to hire a market research firm in coming weeks that will gather a range of data, such as current housing prices and employment and population trends. The firm will group the data according to housing types and prices, sorting it into five-year increments.
The firm, whose name was not disclosed because the CCOG is still finalizing a contract with it, will compile an index of properties in town, including those suitable for redevelopment. It will then compare current market prices with projected housing needs, identifying any obstacles to meeting that demand, such as regulatory and fiscal policies.
It will also interview employers and identify any strategies to accommodate residential development, such as public-private partnerships.
The data will help inform the public and will be used to create a map of the town that will show not only existing development, but also where future development could take place based on existing zoning laws and the types of amenities that would help accommodate that growth, said Prosser, the CCOG’s executive director.
The map will serve as a reference point for planners, who expect to finish it in November. That is when the next public meeting is scheduled.
The planning process has generated its share of public comment, with some 125 people turning out to a public meeting in late June.
Among the concerns jotted down on nearly 90 questionnaires were a lack of affordable housing for seniors and single-family homes, particularly in and around downtown, Prosser said. He also cited comments from small business owners who said employees struggled to find housing commensurate with their income.
Affordable housing is a relative term, generally referring to the cost of housing compared with the median income of a given area. In Mooresville, the median household income is about $61,000, according to the Census Bureau.
It is particularly important for seniors here, or those 65 and older, who constitute the fastest-growing segment of the population in the nine counties the CCOG covers, Prosser said.
In the second phase, engaging the public will prove more interactive, Prosser said.
“The residents are going to be doing the planning,” Prosser said. He called it the “most critical part” of the second phase, which is scheduled to end in December.
Officials say the town has made it a point to take an inclusive approach, seeking comment from a range of stakeholders including residents and business owners big and small. That is especially true for younger generations, given that the scope of the housing strategy extends to 2040.
“It’s very important … to be able to hear all of those voices,” said Kim Sellers, a spokeswoman for the town.
Jake Flannick is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org