Kannapolis adopts new 2030 Comprehensive Plan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 27, 2018

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Council on Monday approved a development plan nearly two years in the making.

Called the Move Kannapolis Forward 2030 Comprehensive Plan, the document was drafted in light of upcoming and expansive changes to the blossoming city. It’s been in the works since the fall of 2016.

The plan uses insight from both city planners and residents to identify development goals for the city: goals for both commercial and residential expansion. It also outlines pathways to achieving those ideals.

One part of the plan, the Future Land Use and Character Map, recently came under fire as developers in the Coddle Creek area sought to bring a residential village of more than 120 homes to Trinity Church Road.

The draft plan characterized the Coddle Creek area as a Neighborhood Transition Area.

“The Neighborhood Transition character district includes areas that have developed over time into low-density residential neighborhoods,” the plan said. “Existing neighborhoods will maintain their character, although there are opportunities to enhance these places with additional connectivity, bicycle and pedestrian amenities, parks and open space, and sidewalks.”

In the comprehensive plan, the transition district would have allowed as many as six homes per acre, compared to an existing maximum of three.

The proposed development came in at 2.4 homes per acre, according to developer M/I Homes. But residents who did their own calculations said the number would actually be more than four homes per acre.

“You ask anybody that has moved up to our area … why they moved,” said resident Marcus Marty. “I can bet you 90 percent of them will tell you that they are moving away from the density. They’re moving away because they want a bigger lot.”

Landowners who wanted to sell their Trinity Church property to M/I said that the proposed residential village fit measures in the comprehensive plan. They also said that any reduction in the number of homes per acre would render the property nearly useless for development, costing them an estimated $1 million.

To try to reach an agreement between the two sides, city planners, residents and landowners met last month. In the end, the Comprehensive Plan was edited to create two types of transition areas.

The Coddle Creek watershed now falls in Neighborhood Transition Area 1, which keeps a maximum of three units per acre with average lot sizes of 15,000 square feet — double the proposed minimum lot size in the M/I Development.

“With the new zoning that is being shoved down our throats, the land will never be developed,” said homeowner Fred Roberts.

City officials said the whole debate is a matter of misunderstanding: the Comprehensive Plan is an ideal rather than a regulatory document such as the city’s development ordinance.

“It’s an aspirational document,” said city Planning Director Zac Gordon. “… It’s a policy guide which then will be implemented through the (Unified Development Ordinance) and any text amendments that we make. So it is not the law. The law is the (Unified Development Ordinance).”