Matthews Defers Action on Small Area Overlay Districts

The Matthews Town Board this week voted a second time to defer a vote on a proposal to create a new Zoning Overlay District (SAP-O) that would make the land use and development policies in three Small Area Plans enforceable on all new development, regardless of whether or not a rezoning is involved.

REBIC has been opposed to the proposal, as are a group of property owners who share our concerns about the restrictions the Overlay would place on their property. The Overlay would impact all parcels in three Small Area Plans adopted by the Town between 2014 and 2017:

    The Monroe Small Area Plan (page 118 of the Town’s Land Use Plan), stretching northward along Monroe Rd between Hwy 51 and the Town limits;The Entertainment District Small Area Plan, covering a large geography around the Matthews Sportsplex; and,The E. John St./Outer Loop Small Area Plan (page 172 of the Town’s Land Use Plan), covering an area south of the I-485 / E. John St interchange.

While a Land Use Plan serves a policy guide, a zoning overlay district has the force of law on all property in its defined geography, and supersedes any zoning rights in the underlying district. The proposed Overlay District would incorporate policies ranging from building design to lot setbacks, and apply to both new development and redevelopment in all three Small Area Plan geographies.

It is REBIC’s position that the imposition of this new Zoning Overlay, as currently drafted, would impose significant land use and development restrictions on hundreds of property owners across the Town of Matthews, dramatically adding cost and regulation that may reduce the economic value of their land. From building material and streetscape standards, to trail and open space dedications, the new requirements that would be codified through the adoption of the SAP-O ordinance will change the underlying zoning provisions on which property owners have relied upon for years, fundamentally altering their land use rights.

Mayor Pro-Tem Chris Melton moved to defer consideration of all three ordinances until the board’s December 10th meeting, but Mayor Paul Bailey asked for an amendment to bring the Monroe Road Overlay back for consideration on Monday, November 12th. Town planning staff is convening a stakeholder meeting in the next two weeks to give REBIC and other interested parties a chance to meet and propose revisions to the ordinance.

You can review the proposed SAP-O zoning district on the Town’s website.

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