ARCHDALE — In an effort to create a development-friendly environment, officials in Archdale discussed potential alterations to the city’s zoning ordinance and the board of adjustment at a recent meeting of City Council.

Vagn Hansen with Benchmark Planning addressed council on a number of items pertaining to how it structures decisions on projects proposed by business owners and developers. One of the key issues that came before the group of officials was who should serve on the board of adjustment for inclusion in the new zoning ordinance and what the duties of that body should be.

Hansen explained that there are 370 uses listed in the existing zoning ordinance, with 84 requiring a special-use permit. In the rewritten ordinance, 165 uses are listed with 34 requiring a special-use permit. The new ordinance clarified permitted uses, decreasing the number of permits to be reviewed by the board of adjustment.

City Manager Zeb Holden offered his thoughts on the process, pointing to political and developmental reasons for possibly expanding the role of the adjustment board and staff. Hansen and Holden contrasted a multi-step administrative approval process with what some municipalities have shifted toward, asking if council would rather preliminary plats become a staff procedure.

“If you’re wanting to be development friendly, if you’re wanting to have that face of being willing to work with development, it kind of takes away from it when you add steps for folks to go through when they’re trying to get their projects approved,” Holden said. “Sometimes a special-use permit can be a divisive thing in the community. Some folks are taking it out of the elected officials’ hands and putting it into a board of adjustment’s hands so that it takes a little of that pressure off of the elected officials.”

After an extensive discussion, council agreed to continue with the current process of approving subdivisions. Consensus among council was to continue with a portion of the planning board serving as the board of adjustment, with council retaining the role of final arbiter of special-use permits.

Also during the meeting, Hansen discussed subdivision regulations and the need for financial guarantees from developers. He suggested that council limit the share of a subdivision permitted under financial obligation at one time. Additional accountability from the developer is the aim.

City Attorney Elizabeth Koonce advocated for the city to refuse bonds or letters of credit as financial guarantees from developers.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

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