Rural Area Plan


On September 13, 2016, the Board of Commissioner approved the Rural Area Plan. Thank you to all landowners, citizens, and organizations that participated! This planning process and document build on the legacy of dialogue dating back (and perhaps beyond!) the 1993 General Plan. The Timeline below outlines the next steps in the process to incorporate the approved plan's recommendations into the Davidson Planning Ordinance. 


To watch a video on the Rural Area Plan, please click here.


Below is a list of presentations recorded through the planning process. The list also includes supporting materials such as conceptual plan drawings. The draft Rural Area Plan, posted above, expands on each of these presentations' content and is the best document to review for up-to-date information.

Why did the Town undertake a Rural Area Plan?

The Town of Davidson undertook a Rural Area Plan for its Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), which comprises approximately 3,848 acres of mainly rural landscape interspersed with large-lot subdivisions and a sparse transportation network (see map above). Several large contiguous tracts of farmland remain undeveloped, many connecting to significant natural features such as bluffs, riparian buffers, and waterways. The area contains several public parks, too, that provide a foundation from which to expand conservation efforts. 

These areas face rising development pressures as Davidson’s location 20 miles north of Charlotte places it directly in the path of development from this burgeoning metropolis. The Town’s Planning Ordinance is based on traditional neighborhood design and smart growth principles, strategies generating compact development patterns and fostering Davidson’s unique sense of place. However, the ETJ’s current regulations permit uncoordinated, low-density development that presents serious land, transportation, and environmental concerns in the near future. Moreover, many believe that the current rules do not treat all landowners equally.

The Town stands at a cross-roads with respect to rural development and conservation practices. The question is not whether Davidson will face development pressure, but how the Town will accommodate, direct, and manage growth; and, how landowners and stakeholders will benefit from this change. Begun in October 2015, the proposed Rural Area Plan (RAP) presented a significant opportunity for citizens to directly contribute to the creation of a coherent land-use and transportation plan to guide development in the rural area for the next 20 to 30 years. See below for further information regarding this plan and ways to get involved. 

Request for Proposal & Consultant Selection 

On Friday, August 21, 2015 the Town of Davidson released a Request for Proposal (RFP) soliciting responses from private consultants to help with the Rural Area Plan. A copy of the RFP is located here

RFPs are tools used by local governments to recruit contractors with the appropriate/desired skills to assist with a defined project scope. They outline the reasons for the project, the envisioned project scope and schedule, as well as submission requirements and selection criteria. In municipal planning and development projects, they are often used to identify and incorporate targeted skill sets needed to execute a project or manage a process. This includes experience such as real estate market analysis, site design, architectural renderings, and facilitating/integrating public input into plans. 

After reviewing the proposals received, the town selected Stantec to lead the Rural Area Plan process. Specifically, the consultant will lead and/or assist with:  Background research and meeting preparation; conducting stakeholder interviews; managing the design charrette; producing conceptual plans envisioning conservation and development opportunities in the rural area; and, producing a report with recommendations and implementation strategies to guide the town in administering the Rural Area Plan. To learn more about the consultant, please visit the company's website featuring Stantec's Community Development/Urban Places Group. Craig Lewis will serve as Stantec's Project Manager. 


October 2015, Pre-Charrette Preparation:  Town & Consultant conducted research, prepared background documents, devised/implemented public outreach strategy. Tasks included reviewing previous plans; gathering current data on land use, transportation, ecological, and real estate conditions; and, developing public engagement plans.  

November 4-5, Stakeholder Interviews:  Town & Consultant conducted stakeholder interviews. These meetings allowed rural area landowners the opportunity to speak directly with the project management team to share their ideas, concerns, and vision for the rural area. Letters announcing this opportunity were mailed to landowners on 10/16/15. Landowners interested in participating that were not able to make the interviews were offered phone calls to solicit their input concerning the RAP. 

November 16-19, Design Charrette:  The town hosted a four-day “charrette,” a design-based, collaborative event that included a public kick-off meeting followed by several days of intensive work. The process produced conceptual plans illustrating potential land use outcomes, with citizens reviewing the plans multiple times at daily review sessions. The final conceptual plans provide the basis for the plan’s policy recommendations. Citizens were encouraged to attend the kick-off meeting, review sessions, and stop by the “design studio” at Davidson Town Hall to share their feedback. Further information on the charrette process is included in the FAQs below. To review the schedule and watch these events, please see the links below:

December 9, Charrette Closing Presentation:  At 6:00 p.m. at Davidson Town hall town staff and the consultant concluded the charrette process with a closing presentation summarizing the conceptual design principles developed through the stakeholder meetings, design exercises, and charrette event. The principles were used to formulate a plan guiding development in the rural area. A Q&A discussion followed the presentation and afterwards attendees were invited to review the conceptual designs and preliminary recommendations on large poster boards, to provide further feedback informing the plan. Copies of the presentation, including preliminary recommendations, along with conceptual designs are posted below:

December 2015 - January 2016, Initial Draft:  The project team drafted a written plan explaining the conceptual designs produced during the charrette. The draft included preliminary recommendations and initial implementation strategies.

January 2016 - April 2016, Editing & Review:  Town staff received the draft plan on Friday, 1/22/16. Over the next few months Town staff and the consultant worked closely together to:  Develop the plan's format; identify key recommendations and implementation strategies; and, ensure that the plan accurately reflected the conceptual designs and feedback generated through the charrette process. 

May 16, 2016 - June 10, 2016, Public Comment Period: THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD IS NOW CLOSEDMany citizens participated in the draft plan's public review and comment period. Citizens were able to view the plan online or via hard copies available at Town Hall during business hours; feedback was receive via email, phone, and in-person conversations with staff. In addition, comments were collected at the two public meetings held during this period - the Planning Board May 2016 meeting and the Board of Commissioners Work Session on June 6. Although an individual response is not able to be provided for each comment, all comments provided during this period have been considered.  

A copy of the Public Comment Report is below.  The document consolidates public comments received during this period and provides responses/clarifies the context of comments;

May 23, 2016, Planning Board Presentation:  As part of the regularly-scheduled planning Board meeting at Town Hall, the project team presented the draft plan to the Planning Board and citizens. After the presentation, a Q&A discussion and public comment were held as part of the Planning Board meeting. A copy of the presentation is below:

June 6, 2016, Planning Board Presentation:  On June 6 Craig Lewis reviewed the plan recommendations with commissioners as part of a special Work Session; Charlotte Water presented an overview of the process for utility extension. The meeting was held at 5:00 pm at Davidson United Methodist Church. Copes of the presentations are below (see the Presentations section above for video):

June 2016 - July 2016, Review of Public Comments:  After the public comment period ends, comments from citizens will be consolidated and posted online. The comments will be reviewed by Town staff, the consultant, and made available to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners. Changes will incorporated into a final draft plan for review by the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners. 

August 29, 2016 Recommendation (Planning Board):  The Planning Board reviewed, discussed, and approved the plan at their regularly-scheduled August meeting. A summary of the discussion can be found on the Planning Board's webpage via the hyperlinked Minutes document. The board recommended approval of the plan as written, with an emphasis that affordable housing be integrated into implementation of the plan.

September 13, 2016 Decision (Board of Commissioners):  The Board of Commissioners reviewed, discussed, and approved the plan at their regularly-scheduled September meeting. As approved, the plan represents a policy document that guides decision-making; the plan’s specific recommendations must be incorporated into the Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO) in order for regulations to reflect actual changes in the development standards, rezoning, etc. related to the rural area. For example, properties that were recommended to be re-designated as a different Planning Area (i.e. re-zoned), have not yet been re-designated. This will not happen until the DPO is changed to reflect the RAP’s recommendations.

Fall 2016/Winter 2017, Next Steps:  In the coming weeks and months staff will be working to translate the proposed recommendations from the plan into specific DPO text and map changes (i.e. re-zonings). The proposed changes will then be presented to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners for approval. The targeted time frame for review and approval of these changes is Fall 2016/Winter 2017 and the RAP website will be updated to reflect these events.

January 5, 2017 Map Amendments Open House:  As part of the plan’s implementation, certain properties must be re-designated as different Planning Areas in order to realize the plan’s recommendations. In Davidson this process is known as a Map Amendment; other communities use the term “rezoning.” The Planning Dept. will host an open house on Thursday, January 5, 2016 from 4:30 - 6:30 pm at Town Hall. The Open House will not include a formal presentation, but during this time citizens may stop by and learn more about the approved plan and proposed Map Amendments. For a copy of the informal slide show playing during the Open House, please select the following link:  RAP Map Amendment Open House Presentation

Note:  The proposed changes are consistent with the recommended changes first proposed in December 2015 and adopted in September 2016. The changes can be reviewed in the Rural Area Plan from page 87 Planning Ordinance Changes to page 90, Action Item 7.8, or on the Town of Davidson website at:

January 10, 2017 Map Amendments Public Hearing, Board of Commissioners:  A public hearing in accordance with NCGS 160A-364 is scheduled for the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. The Board of Commissioners may elect to close the public hearing that evening and take up the proposal for a vote on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. Between those meetings, the proposed Map Amendment will appear before the Planning Board on Monday, January 30, 2017, where public comment will be received and a Planning Board recommendation made. To view a list of the proposed map amendments, please see the Town of Davidson website at:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an area plan? 

An area plan is a policy document that provides the framework for future growth and development and serves as guidance for elected officials when making land use and zoning decisions (Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department). The Rural Area Plan will focus primarily on land use, transportation, design, and environmental issues within the Town of Davidson’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, or ETJ. 

2. What is the Rural Area or “study area” for this project?

The RAP will encompass approximately 3,780 acres firmly bounded by the Mecklenburg-Iredell County line (north); Rocky River/Cabarrus County (east); and, the Town’s corporate limits (west). South of East Rocky River Rd., several pockets of adjoining rural areas exist (dark green), interspersed with various developments. The Rural North area (light green), however, contains the majority of undisturbed rural land areas. See the interactive map on this webpage for reference, or click here for a static map.

Note: The designated rural Planning Areas (i.e. zoning) found in the planning ordinance are Rural and Rural Reserve. These areas contain different zoning criteria. The Rural North/South terminology utilized in the RFP does not refer to explicit Planning Areas or zoning criteria; rather, it clarifies the geographic extent of subsections within the proposed study area. There are no Rural Reserve-zoned properties within the study area.

3. How do I know if my property is included in the Rural Area Plan?

Please see the map at the top of this page. Enter the property's physical address in the top right corner of the map next to the magnifying glass (i.e. search button). If the property appears in the light green study area, the property is considered to be within the scope of this plan. We encourage all citizens and especially rural area landowners to be involved in this process.

4. What are the expected outcomes? 

The RAP will help landowners, elected officials, and other stakeholders understand the future development projections in the study area along with future infrastructure plans, such as utility sequencing and transportation access. It will clarify areas that are most suitable for development as well as areas that should remain as public amenities and/or undeveloped. 

Additionally, the RAP will propose land use and transportation solutions as well as regulations to ensure implementation of the plan. Examples of strategies include protected areas, new development regulations or incentives, zoning changes, overlay districts, timing of infrastructure investment, etc.

Lastly, the RAP will rely heavily on illustrative plans and diagrams to convey the desired outcomes; that is, the envisioned future of the study area.

4. What is a charrette?

As noted in the RFP, a key part of the RAP will be a charrette. Broadly, a charrette is a project-management process that involves iterative feedback from many stakeholders (i.e. citizens, elected officials, landowners, etc.) at key points. Specifically, it is a design-based, collaborative event that takes place in a compressed amount of time. It relies on extensive research and public input ahead of the event, and cyclical feedback from the public during the event. The aim is to produce a clear, feasible plan with stakeholder support. The plan includes implementation strategies and tools, such as regulatory language to accompany the adopted plan. When executed successfully, charrette-based programs avoid a protracted public process and costly rework by gathering critical information, involving stakeholders, and making decisions in a focused period of time.

For further information, please see the National Charrette Institute’s webpage. In particular, this video from director Bill Lennertz offers a concise explanation. 

5. What is the process for getting involved?

Thank you for your interest! All citizens are welcome to participate in this process, which includes several opportunities/events for public input. Please see the Timeline and Involvement Opportunities sections above for more detailed information on how to get involved.

6. How were citizens made aware of this process?

Public Outreach Overview:  In October 2015 the Town of Davidson reached out to rural area landowners via postal mail to make them aware of the process so that they could share information at various events. Since then project updates have been communicated via a variety of channels including social media platforms, Town news emails/listserves, and the Town website -- including a dedicated Rural Area Plan webpage. Additionally, the Town Message newsletter contained plan featured updates in each of its quarterly publications (Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Summer 2016, Fall 2016); this newsletter is mailed to all citizens residing within the 28036 zip code, which is approximately 7,800 households. The Charlotte Observer also ran an article on the plan in early January, 2016. Most recently, in May 2016 all stakeholder interview and charrette participants that provided their contact information to the Town were contacted to announce the beginning of the Public Comment Period, which was also announced via several of the aforementioned channels. Throughout and even after the Public Comment Period, staff continued to meet with citizens to answer questions, solicit feedback, and incorporate their ideas into the plan. 

7. Who can I contact for more information? 

Staff Contacts:
  - Cristina Shaul, Public Information Officer:
  - Trey Akers, Planning Dept., Rural Area Plan Project Manager: