Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

Booming Lake Norman Growth; The Growing Dilemma

View of Main Channel of Lake Norman from a waterfront home

Yesterday was a perfect day to be out on Lake Norman. My husband and I decided to go north as far as we could, touring the coastline clear up the Catawba River where civilization is hardly evident. I imagine this is what all of Lake Norman used to look like. Along the way we saw lot after lot of exposed, red dirt construction sites.

Since its completion in 1963, Lake Norman has been a magnet for abundant development, from million-dollar mansions and sprawling apartment complexes to shopping malls and public parks. Along the way, it has suffered its share of growing pains. Today, all four counties and the towns that encompass Lake Norman are independently and jointly focusing on curbing growth or at the very least controlling and directing it. Here is a summary of who has oversight of what, some of the most notable efforts to deal with our growth and links to the various town and county websites for more detailed information:

Duke Power controls Lake Norman to the high water line. It’s shoreline management plan determines where piers, docks and marinas would be allowed, affecting the development that goes with them. Currently, residential takes up 52.6% of the shoreline, 4% is multi-family and 1.1% is commercial such as marinas and convenient stores, 12.8% is environmental areas, Impact Minimization Zones constitute 2.2%, and Natural Areas 1.3%. Future development development is slated for 21.2%. www.duke-power.com

The Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation is responsible for the development and implementation of the economic development strategy for the Towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and the Lake Norman Region.

State of North Carolina. According to a Charlotte Observer article on April 1, 2007, the lack of inspectors is “crippling state enforcement of erosion and sediment-control laws” The amount of land being developed in the state’s jurisdiction has soared 64% since 2002″ yet the Charlotte region has only 5 state inspectors.

Iredell County Planning Board and the Iredell County Commissioners oversee the entire northeast portion of the lake from Statesville down to the new Exit 32/ Langtree area. They have oversight of the “Growth Management Study For the Perth and Brawley School Road Areas” that some feel doesn’t have enough teeth in it. And, after much debate earlier this year, the Iredell County commissioners approved a residential building cap for the Brawley School Road peninsula. However, up to 90% of the area’s undeveloped lots may be exempt.

The Town of Mooresville now has an updated strategic plan known as “Vision 2010-Moving Mooresville Forward”. Their new land-use plan and transportation plans are now being development together with the overall goal of helping to reduce traffic as the town grows. This plan looks ahead to 2030 and includes parks, greenways and conservation corridors. You can find out more about these land use plans at www.ci.mooresville.nc.us.

The Mooresville and Davidson town boards meet quarterly to discuss growth and development issues and Mooresville leaders have joined those of Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville to work together to prepare for changes around the lake.

Davidson Town Officials are considering a proposed year-long moratorium that would eliminate new development along Davidson-Concord Road and some of N.C. 73. Davidson’s town planners have made it clear that while they expect growth they want to preserve its historic and pedestrian-friendly character. Davidson is the only Lake Norman town to have an adequate public facilities ordinance. Their APFO is tied to the availability of community parks and greenways, affordable housing, police cars, fire protection and vehical capacity on key intersections. www.ci.davidson.nc.us

Cornelius passed a 5-month moratorium on new multi-family and residential subdivisions in February 2007.www.cornelius.org,

Huntersville is considering adopting an adequate public facilities ordinance in fall 2007. It will be tied to the need for adequate parks, police and fire protection.www.huntersville.org

Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, which includes the towns of Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville, have oversight of key areas of development including Rezoning which greatly impacts how land can be used: www.rezoning.org, www.charmeck.org.

Lincoln County Commissioners have oversight of a long-debated program aimed at managing residential growth in the county. “The adequate pubic facilities program (APFO) is intended to prevent development from overwhelming such county services as schools, water and sewer” according to the Charlotte Observer. County Commissioners will consider adopting such a program on Aug. 20, 2007. It is expected to pass.

It clear that the entire Lake Norman area’s growth up until now happened without consideration for adequate facilities and infrastructure. But, this truly is a case of “better late than never”. We are so luck to live in an area where the economy is so strong and the quality of life so great that growth is a part of life. It is encouraging to see how each of our towns and counties are working not only individually but together to catch-up with our growth issues and plan for an exciting future.

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