The Town of Davidson is known nationally for its progressive planning, urban placemaking, and unique small-town experience. Home to the historic College of Davidson and located in northern Mecklenburg County, Davidson has worked very carefully over the last two decades to manage growth and maintain community character. Building on several recent planning efforts, Town leaders initiated a process to create a renewed vision for the Town. The Town hired Clarion Associates in the fall of 2018 to lead the process to update the Comprehensive Plan – What’s Next Davidson. The project scope of work included development of the public engagement process and facilitating the engagement activities, conducting analysis of conditions and trends including a fiscal evaluation, and using the public inputs to generate a draft Comprehensive Plan. The Plan was developed to consider all relevant Legacy Plans.
Beginning with an evaluation of the Town’s established General Planning Principle, the process was designed to target public engagement efforts to answer critical policy questions. Engagement efforts included a decentralized effort to engage residents in evaluating the Principles, conducting a Conversation on What’s Next Community Forum that offered small group opportunities to discuss the three critical questions for the Town’s future as well as online option for those that couldn’t attend, and the Shaping What’s Next multi-day charrette workshop that resulted in a growth framework and visual preferences for community placemaking. Several important new tools were included in this draft, including a new Growth Management Tiers Map and related Utility Service and Annexation Criteria. The final version of the comprehensive plan was adopted by commissioners in January 2020. Clarion also worked with Davidson to prepare an Implementation Guidebook for the plan. The plan won an award by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association.