Davidson leaders are in the process of updating the town’s affordable housing program, and two public information sessions will allow residents learn more and express concerns.
The town’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, better known as the affordable housing program, was adopted in 2001, but town leaders want to update the plan in anticipation of another growth spurt in the housing market, said Cristina Shaul, public information officer for Davidson.
The Davidson Board of Commissioners on Sept. 10-11 met with town planning staff to discuss proposed changes to the ordinance.
Discussions during the two-day retreat revolved around changes to the town’s planning areas, building types and uses, Shaul said. Board members expressed goals of maintaining the small-town character while encouraging economic development.
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Commissioners also discussed changing the focus of the affordable housing program from “for sale” affordable housing to a mix of rental opportunities and “for sale” housing, Shaul said.
The town hopes changes to the program will get more affordable rental units in the downtown area.
A public hearing is planned for Nov. 11 at town hall, and the board is expected to vote on the changes at its Dec. 9 meeting.
The town’s planning department staff will help create development standards and long-range plans, Shaul said, as well as ensure the changes will be in compliance with state and federal laws.
“Davidson residents pride themselves on being a distinct, sustainable and sovereign municipality,” Shaul said. “Our town’s sense of community is rooted in citizens who respect each other …. We need to update the planning ordinance to make it easier to interpret and align our standards with our comprehensive plan. … This re-write process will structure the ordinance in a more methodical way.
Commissioners also plan to create a committee to work with Affordable Housing Coordinator Cindy Reid to review and revise the ordinance every two years.
The town makes affordable housing available to people who make $32,100, or less than 50 percent of the area medium income, which is roughly $64,200 for a family of four, Reid said. The home price for someone who qualifies for affordable housing would be about $100,000.
Re-evaluating the ordinance will help maintain the town’s economic diversity, said Reid, adding that the cost to build in Davidson is one of most expensive in North Carolina, based on construction and real-estate data.
The ordinance was created, in part, because some middle-income people realized they were slowly not being able to afford to live where they worked, Reid said. School teachers, a police officer and an interior designer are just some of the people Davidson’s affordable housing serves.
“If we allowed that trend to continue, with limited land and high building costs, then we would become an exclusive community of wealthy people, and that’s not how this town started out,” Reid said.