The town of Davidson will show off its smart growth and sustainability work this week for residents from across the country.
As part of the 2011 New Partners Conference, which runs Feb. 3-5 in Charlotte, economic development manager Kris Krider will give visitors a tour of Davidson as an example of a sustainable community.
Krider, as well as other town staff, such as planning manager Lauren Blackburn, will also participate in conference panel discussions, including some on affordable housing and small-town growth.
Now in its 11th year, the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference will tackle such modern issues as how to reduce dependence on foreign oil, create a green economy and expand transportation and housing options for all.
A range of professions, from local elected officials to landscape architects, is expected to attend.
Krider suggested that the conference include a tour of Davidson because the town committed to the philosophies of smart growth years ago, he said.
"Davidson was more of a self starter," said Krider. "Our comprehensive plan is based on the themes of livability."
In the late 1980s, Davidson officials noticed the amount of growth in Charlotte and realized it would inevitably spread to Davidson, said Krider.
At the time, the town's planning ordinance allowed for neighborhoods that were not conducive to smart growth or sustainability, he said. These gated neighborhoods featured cul-de-sacs and lacked sidewalk connectivity.
"There was a lot of heartburn that we were allowing this type of development that wasn't typical in Davidson," he said.
"They created exclusivity and separation from other neighborhoods. They really didn't feel like they were part of the greater whole."
In response, town staff updated Davidson's planning ordinance to specify such smart-growth principles as preserving the downtown and not growing any faster than the town could provide public facilities.
"We want compact development, walkable streets, connectivity and high-quality design and architecture," said Krider, adding that drive-through restaurants and one-story businesses are not permitted because they don't support those qualities.
"Smart growth is this whole idea of livable communities. It's not just the built environment; it's what you put in your body and how you take care of it. It's more of a holistic approach with many secondary positive effects."