An update on this week’s meeting and other goings-on:

We had a productive workshop meeting on Monday. We authorized the Kayak Rental Program with the Riverkeepers, the Utility Repayment Program for outstanding water/sewer bills, and the contract for the South Main Street sidewalk enhancements (all of which you find here:https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Id=430).

We also had a very good conversation around our planning and development process. I have talked with staff about the need to get more public input earlier in the development process so that residents can have a meaningful impact on whatever project is being proposed and have an opportunity to provide input before a lot of the key components of a project are already locked in. So, the planning staff presented a series of proposals for what I think will be a great improvement to our process. One of the biggest changes is that the community meeting (where the developer does a public presentation for anyone interested in the project and is a chance to gather input from the community) will be held much earlier in the process. There will also be individual web pages for each project that have all of the relevant plans and documents in one place and will also include a timeline that shows where each project is in the development process. There will also be much more consistent usage of the Zoning Notice signs and, those signs will have more information on them that will direct passers-by to the relevant project web page (by means of a QR code or other code) to make it easier to find information about each project. These changes will still need to go through the Planning Board and then be approved by the City Council, but I think we’re making good progress on this front.

We also spent some time talking about potential changes to things like increasing the setbacks between houses and switching our major redevelopment process from a largely by-right process (which is what it is today) to a conditional rezoning process (which is what most other cities and towns use). These are also changes that would need to go through the Planning Board before they come to Council, so we are looking at holding a joint meeting with the Planning Board in the next few weeks to flesh out some of these changes. So, more to come on those.
This week, the City Council also took a tour of the Carolina Orchards development in Fort Mill. The developer of that project is exploring the possibility of doing something similar (an age-restricted senior living community) along the northern third of the Pittenger Property (which is a large piece of land south of Armstrong Ford Road that runs along the South Fork River). There will likely be more to come on that in the next few weeks.

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