I’ve repeatedly said that Davidson has several core values, and I support all of them. I’ve also said that it’s important to understand that at times core values may be in conflict with each other, and that we’ve done a good job of striking the right balance among our core values.
Truth be told, if I had to pick one favorite core value, it would be protecting open space. I’ve enjoyed a life long love affair with nature, which I attribute to grandparents in West Virginia who were “outdoors people,” and also to growing up in Arizona with its mountains and open spaces. While I had human friends growing up, nature was the one friend who was always there when you needed her.
I’d also put open space protection a hair above our other core values because once it’s gone, open space usually doesn’t come back (there are some exceptions to this rule, but they’re exceptions, not the norm). I’ve been on the Board of the Davidson Lands Conservancy for several years, and was the president of the DLC for 2 years. As such I got to know and work closely with Roy Alexander, the first Executive Director of the Davidson Lands Conservancy. Roy taught all of us the importance of one word, “perpetuity.” Perpetuity in that conservation easements could protect open space forever, and perpetuity in that once open space is gone, it’s usually gone for a long time.
But, we cannot save everything. Land conservation is as much about deciding where you will grow as it is where you wish to protect land. Since the late 1990s it’s been the policy of the Town of Davidson to target growth closer to our village center, and to cluster development so as to protect greater amounts of open space. This policy is one that I have long supported, and continue to support.
Davidson’s successes in protecting open space are obvious: Fisher Farm, Abersham, and Allison Parks account for nearly 600 acres of contiguous open space on our east side. Since the early 2000s, Davidson’s planning ordinance has required 50% open space preservation in any development in our rural area, an unheard of amount in a growing area.
In 2017, the Davidson Town Board of Commissioners approved the Rural Area Plan, an update to our planning ordinance that requires even further protection of open space. In fact, the Rural Area Plan’s requirements will result in 63% of our rural area being protected as open space, or an ADDITIONAL 340 acres of protected land versus the already high requirements. I took a lead role in pushing for higher and higher open space requirements in this plan.
Davidson will continue to grow. We will continue to lose some of our open spaces. To say otherwise would be dishonest. But with efforts such as the Rural Area Plan, and an emphasis on developing in a clustered approach close to our village center, we can grow and still retain very significant amounts of open space for the enjoyment of all.