The Mint Hill Board of Commissioners – four commissioner and a mayor – holds workshops each quarter to give developers an opportunity to pitch ideas and get board reaction before investing the money for zoning changes and detailed site plans.
If commissioners look favorably on the idea, the developer can proceed knowing the board is amenable to his plan. If the board expresses concerns, the developer knows to either make changes or come up with another project.
Commissioners recently heard two proposals from builders who want to develop projects that would require zoning changes.
Each piece of property in town falls under a zoning category that details what can be built there. If the proposed project can be built under all the requirements in that zoning category then it can proceed “by right,” without board approval.
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Many times, however, a developer will want to build something other than what’s allowed under the current zoning and must apply for a change.
That is a fairly lengthy process that takes about 90 days and includes a public hearing, a meeting of the Planning Board and finally a decision by the commissioners.
It’s up to the board to decide whether to grant a zoning change.
Nicolas Parker of Amicus Partners presented commissioners two development scenarios for 12 acres at 5635 Margaret Wallace Road, at the corner of Margaret Wallace and Lebanon Roads.
The property currently holds a single-family home, a pond and lots of trees.
Parker proposed building either an office/retail center or patio homes similar to Matthews’ Polo Club or Bella Serra.
Though they gave thumbs down to several other developers with patio-home concepts within the past year, commissioners expressed support for the patio-home idea at that site.
“I think it can be a beautiful development if done properly. I can certainly be receptive to a plan similar to what you’re showing,” said Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers.
Developer Jerry Helms, who has similar plans for his property on Lawyers Road next to the Traditions at Lawyer’s Glen development, drew a less than enthusiastic response from commissioners when he presented his project last year. Helms said he’s encouraged by the commissioners’ current support for the patio-home project and plans to bring his plans back to the board.
“The project I’ve been working on for three years for cluster homes for senior housing is now ready to be built. We are ready to break ground and I am looking forward to a good working relationship with the town,” Helms said.
The other idea pitched to the board recently wasn’t received as favorably.
Bob Steenson of Carillon Assisted Living pitched an assisted-living complex on 8 acres at Lawyers Road near the corner of Nelson Road, close to the center of town. Steenson said the frontage on Lawyers Road would be a draw for the facility.
Commissioners said that, since that area was near the “gateway” to Mint Hill, they didn’t feel that an assisted-living facility was right for that spot.
“This board has welcomed assisted living and senior living facilities, but in the downtown we are real protective of the area,” Biggers said.
He said he would consider approving the facility there if the developer would move it back and not have such a presence on Lawyers Road.
Commissioners say they plan to discuss both ideas further at their March 6-8 retreat at The Hut in Pineville.