Eastern gateway

Senior Planner Nadine Bennett presented this design to town commissioners Sept. 13 for the eastern gateway into town. Photo courtesy of Town of Matthews

MATTHEWS – Planning staff with the Town of Matthews has been getting calls regularly from people interested in developing pieces of the 120 acres off I-485 and Idlewild Road. Staff describes the site as the eastern gateway into Matthews and one of the last remaining large pieces of undeveloped property in town.

They've been collecting community feedback on what they would like to see developed there. That input will be compiled into the Eastern Gateway Small Area Plan, which will help guide rezoning decisions in that area for years to come.

Earlier this year, we really felt like this was a good time to get this process started,” Planning Director Jay Camp told commissioners Sept. 13. “I've been seeing development interest for years now, and there are properties that are under contract. I think the timing is really good that we're able to get ahead and set a vision for the community.”

Much of the focus has been to the top half of the site, just north of a Duke Energy substation.

Staff envisions single-family homes to the west bordering the Windrow neighborhood. Moving east, the uses transition from duplexes, townhomes and other forms of middle housing to apartments closer to I-485.

Mixed uses could front Idlewild Road but away from the I-485 on-ramp. Staff can picture residential units over commercial uses like in downtown Davidson. A community park could go in behind those uses.

Town planning staff reached out to stakeholders in May and kicked off community outreach in June. This included a survey and community open house at the Windrow neighborhood clubhouse.

Senior Planner Nadine Bennett expected Windrow neighbors to not want to see anything developed at the property, but people favored mixed-use development by a 3-to-1 margin.

Obviously, we also had people who said leave it the way it is; we don't need any new development,” Bennett said. “We had a lot more people saying I'd love to have a place to walk to, I don't want to have to get into my car, I don't want to go to Independence Boulevard or downtown to do everything that I want to do.”

Windrow residents were adamant about not wanting a connecting road through Creekside into new development. Staff removed a potential connection from those plans, but are leaving the possibility of revisiting the issue in 10 to 20 years in case conditions change, Bennett said.

Staff also adjusted the transportation grid after learning that N.C. Department of Transportation scrapped plans for a relocation of Stallings Road and subsequent roundabouts in the area, Bennett said. The town has added a stoplight to the plans at Idlewild Road and Davis Trace Drive.

Commissioners didn't give much feedback Sept. 13 after getting a first look at the plan. Renee Garner and Ken McCool said they were digesting the details. Jeff Miller would like to see some affordable housing added to the area.

Commissioner Larry Whitley and Mayor Jim Higdon had good things to say about the plan. Higdon liked that single-family residential homes were included in the project and close to existing houses.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the small area plan later this month and may vote on the plan as early as October after the Matthews Planning Board reviews it.

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