South Charlotte

Town updating land-use plan

Industry standards say a land-use plan, a document that spells out how the town will develop, should be updated every 10 years; Mint Hill's Land Use Plan, approved in 2000, is now 11 years old.

Elected officials use the plan as a guide when considering zoning requests. For the past 18 months, a committee composed of town staff, residents and consultants from NHTB have been revising the current plan.

Last fall, the committee released its proposed updates, and some citizens have been upset ever since. Several public workshops were held along the way, but many residents say they didn't know about them and didn't have a chance to let commissioners know what they wanted to see in town.

The updated plan calls for several sections of Mint Hill to have higher-density housing than currently allowed. It also calls for some areas to have concentrated employment centers, carves out space for a new YMCA, adds several hotels to town and other features.

Supporters say such growth is necessary to increase the tax base and support the amenities residents have become accustomed to.

Those opposing the plan say higher-density housing would ruin the small-town feel Mint Hill is famous for, as well as lower tax values and increase crime in the area.

Commissioners put the plan on hold shortly after it was presented and recently posted an online survey to let residents have their say. That survey ended a few weeks ago, and residents again are concerned their voices haven't been heard. Several spoke against the plan at the last Board of Commissioners meeting.

"The thing I'm hearing most is that our community hasn't been given enough opportunity to talk about this in public," said Mint Hill resident Jim Parrish. "I would challenge you to get it out in front of the public before anything is done to jeopardize our property and our trust in our elected officials."

Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers says he wants to assure citizens the board isn't in a hurry to adopt any revisions and that there will still be plenty of time for them to share their opinions with the board.

"The next phase will be for staff to compile the survey results and present the results to the board. We will then evaluate those results and determine what the next step will be," said Biggers.

"I anticipate that once the board sees and discusses the results, we will schedule a public hearing where folks can come and comment. The revised plan will then go to the planning board for their recommendation and then back to us for a decision. We could approve it as is, revise it, or turn it down and start over."

Biggers says that while the board wants to adopt a plan in a timely fashion, they don't want to rush the plan without carefully considering all factors. Until then, the 2000 Land Use Plan will remain in place along with the recently adopted small-area plan for the Lawyers Road-Interstate 485-Bridges at Mint Hill area.