Editorial: Growing pains

Published 1:20 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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County commissioners may have left their special meeting last week with dazed looks in their eyes.

It was about growth, and County Manager Brian Barnett and Planning Director Johnny Easter had given them tools they could use to steer growth to certain areas, or control how it looks.

They only heard a few ways. You can bet they’ll hear even more from developers in the coming years. These decisions are never easy.

In the next 25 years, Davie’s population is epected to increase from 44,000 to 60,000. That’s nearly a 10 percent growth rate, while the new housing unit rate is increasing at less than 1 percent. Since 2021, the average sales price for a home in Davie has been $296,000. In July of this year there were 80 homes listed for sale in Davie County.

Also since 2021, Davie County has rezoned more than 500 acres of land for general industrial growth. Barnett said that will mean more workers looking for places to live.

At the same time, more than 90 percent of all land in Davie County is zoned at the lowest development levels – residential/agriculture, or residential R-20.

The board heard about the possibilities of establishing more zoning overlay districts, where restrictions could be placed. They heard about planned industrial developments, where commissioners would have to “sign off” on potential site plans.  They learned about rural conservation developments, where housing units could be clustered together in exchange for open spaces in the same development.

Not counting the towns, Easter said that on 98 percent of land in the county only single-family housing units are allowed.

One thing board members seemed to agree on, but didn’t vote, was to eliminate shared, short driveways, and the road frontage space needed for a building lot.

That, too, would drive the prices of homes upward. It was reported that building a subdivision with streets and curbing, with acceptable setbacks for houses, would mean that houses would cost a minimum of $500,000 based on today’s construction prices.

Yes, Davie County is growing and will continue to grow. And yes, county commissioners will year after year be faced with decisions about what type of growth goes where.

We hope they make the right decisions. At least they’re getting potential tools ready. All they need now is to hear from you.

What do you want Davie County to look like in 20 years?

– Mike Barnhardt