The maps presented to the Durham County Board of Commissioners on Monday illustrated a point that many in Durham had an inkling about—development south of Interstate 85 in Durham continues to boom, while development north of I-85 is lagging behind.
The Durham City-County Planning Department, as part of its annual report to the county commissioners, on Monday showed maps of rezoning and land-use plan changes throughout the year. The red dots tell the tale. In 2014 and 2015, the changes focused in the southern portion of the county.
Comprehensive Plan amendments accepted in 2015
Zoning cases approved in 2015
Commissioner Wendy Jacobs says seeing where the zoning and plan amendment changes are happening shows where the "preponderance of growth is happening" and added that seeing those maps and being able to visualize the growth "does inform some of the conversations we have had related to schools."
Indeed, one of the identified needs for the future of Durham Public Schools' growth is the addition of a $28 million elementary school in southern Durham, near Scott King Road.
The planning department gives an annual update of the comprehensive plan (which was updated in the spring of 2012) to help rectify any differences between the adopted Future Land Use Map (FLUM) of the city and county. The report also shows proposed changes to the plan and progress on previous proposals, as well as technical updates to the map. But what's really interesting is the inclusion of "planning trends and issues that may affect land use policy in the future."
And looking ahead, the planning department, in it's memo on its annual report, noted projections for land use into 2045 (yes, it's looking almost three decades into the future). Those projections show the county could be pressed for commercial and office space.
"However, regarding office, it should be borne in mind that land designated institutional, commercial, industrial and design district can also accommodate office uses. Therefore, the FLUM has sufficient land designated to accommodate projected office demand," the memo notes.
The report also points to future trends in growth in Durham—including population and demographic trends. The memo showed that seniors continue to be the fastest growing population in Durham County, but millennials (defined as those between the ages of sixteen and thirty-three years old) are the "largest segment of the population."
According to the planning department memo,"This generation tends to prefer more urban locations to live and work than do preceding generations. Incentivizing mixed use, urbanized neighborhoods with parks, restaurants, nightlife, and common areas and a mix of rental and for-sale housing will be important to attract and retain young people."
Here's another takeaway:
While the City of Durham already has no racial or ethnic majority, this may be true for the country as a whole within a generation. Minority populations tend to live in multigenerational housing and use public transit at a higher rate than non-Hispanic white populations. Preserving a wide range of housing options (sizes, types, price points) that are connected to jobs via public transit will become an even higher priority. Furthermore, a recent Urban Land Institute publication revealed that minorities are nearly 50 percent of the homebuyer market nationwide—a trend that will likely take place in Durham and lead to more integrated single-family neighborhoods.
There's also talk about a "surge in single-person households" that will increase a demand for "small home on small lots" (sounds like hipster-chic Tiny Homes to me). But coupled with that will be an increase of demand for "multifamily housing" due to urban living desires.
But, let's not forget affordable housing in those trends: "A demonstrated need for affordable housing for low-to-moderate income residents remains. As demand for multifamily housing increases, particularly around future rail transit stations, issues regarding housing affordability will need to be addressed."
So, there ya have it folks. If you thought you saw more changes happening in the southern part of the county, you were correct.