DAVIDSON – The town’s approach to rural land preservation has earned recognition from an international organization focused on promoting well-designed cities and neighborhoods.

At the 17th annual Charter Awards program hosted by The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), Davidson’s Rural Area Plan was one of nine projects in the country cited for excellence. Two others projects, one in Cornwall, England, and one in Curridabat, Costa Rica, were also honored as winners during the ceremonies held May 18 in Savannah, Ga.

Davidson Planning Director Jason Burdette and Senior Planner Trey Akers accepted the award.

The CNU awards recognize exemplary projects by local government, developers, architects, urban designers and others engaged in revitalizing and creating coherent cities, neighborhoods and metropolitan regions. Winners are chosen because they not only embody and advance the CNU principles but also because they make a difference in people’s lives.

“Excellence in architecture and urban design is more than a beautiful building, street or neighborhood,” said Lynn Richards, president and CEO of CNU, in a press release. “It’s how a design improves the quality of lives of the people living, working and playing in these areas. The best efforts are victories that may not be obvious but make a tremendous impact.”

The Davidson Rural Area Plan lays the groundwork for innovative rural land conservation, with 65 percent of the countryside (more than 6 square miles) preserved by the plan, according to the CNU announcement. The plan allows for the development of compact hamlets and villages on one-third of the area.

The plan was adopted in the spring of 2017. Its policies and requirements create a minimum of 2,463 acres of permanently protected, publicly accessible open space as the sector is built out, if and when development should occur.  

Davidson has protected its countryside through low-intensity zoning, land acquisition and partnerships for two decades, but now development of the Charlotte metro area has extended well beyond Davidson’s farthest borders, the press release states. Preserving open space in a time of rising development pressure, while fostering equitable development, requires long-term, out-of-the-box thinking.

At the 2018 awards program, CNU recognized 11 professional designs and three student design projects across the United States and in South Africa, England, Costa Rica, Argentina and Iran. The awards ceremony was held during CNU’s annual Congress, a four-day event that brings people together to discuss, debate, engage and advance innovations and strategies in city- and town-building.

CNU is an international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, and get around. The organization endorses the concept that well-designed cities and neighborhoods are crucial for health, economic development and environmental preservation.

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