3.2.7 Highway Commercial District (HC)

Intent: The Highway Commercial District is established to provide primarily for auto-dependent uses in areas not amenable to easy pedestrian access and a comfortable pedestrian environment. It is expected that the Highway Commercial District will serve not only the Huntersville Community, but interstate travelers as well. Because of the scale and access requirements of uses in this category, they often cannot be compatibly integrated within the Town Center or Neighborhood Center Districts. Development at district boundaries must provide a compatible transition to uses outside the district; property boundaries adjacent to freeways or expressways will require a 50-foot foliated buffer yard; and frontages on major or minor arterials will require formal street tree planting.

a) Permitted Uses

Uses permitted by right

  • amusement facilities: all indoor uses
  • armories for meetings and training of military organizations
  • auction sales
  • boarding or rooming houses for up to six roomers
  • religious institutions
  • civic, fraternal, cultural, community, or club facilities
  • commercial uses
  • contractor offices and accessory storage yards, excluding the storage of general construction equipment and vehicles
  • government buildings
  • indoor and outdoor recreation
  • multi-family homes
  • nightclubs, music clubs, bars, and similar entertainment facilities
  • pawnshops and second-hand shops
  • single family homes
  • vocational and technical schools
  • wholesale sales with related office, storage and warehousing entirely within an enclosed building; truck terminals not permitted

Uses permitted with conditions

  • adult establishments, (9.2)
  • amusement facilities, outdoor, limited to par 3 golf courses, golf driving ranges, and archery ranges, (9.5)
  • car wash, (9.6)
  • commercial marinas, (9.43)
  • day care center, (9.11)
  • essential services 1 and 2, (9.14)
  • gasoline service stations, including service and repair of motor vehicles, (9.22)
  • hotels spaced 250' or more from residential or mixed use zones, (9.45)
  • parks, (9.29)
  • temporary outdoor sales of seasonal agricultural products (example: Christmas tree/pumpkin sales), (9.37)
  • temporary mobile food sales, (9.37)
  • transit-oriented parking lots as a principal use, (9.49)
  • transit shelters, (9.39)
  • vehicle and boat service, rental, cleaning, mechanical repair, and body repair, (9.25; 9.26)
  • internet sweepstakes, (9.58)

Uses permitted with special use permit

  • crematoriums, accessory (9.56)
  • halfway houses (9.55)
  • hotels spaced less than 250' from residential or mixed-use zones, (9.45)
  • hotels exceeding permitted building height, (9.45)
  • wind energy facility, minor (accessory) (9.53)

b) Permitted Building Types

  • apartment
  • attached house
  • civic
  • detached house
  • highway commercial; up to 65,000 sq. ft. of first-floor area on major thoroughfare; up to 15,000 sq. ft. of first-floor area on minor thoroughfare.6
  • mixed use7 up to 65,000 sq. ft.  of first-floor area on major thoroughfare; up to 15,000 sq. ft.  on minor thoroughfare
  • shopfront, up to 65,000 sq. ft. of first-floor area on major thoroughfare; up to 15,000 sq. ft. of first-floor area on minor thoroughfare; second-floor apartments or offices encouraged for most uses.
  • workplaces; up to 65,000 sq. ft. of first-floor area on major thoroughfare; up to 15,000 sq. ft. of first-floor area on minor thoroughfare; second-floor apartments or offices encouraged for most uses.

6 Maximum first floor area for highway commercial buildings may be exceeded only where massing of building is varied to reduce perceived scale and volume. NOTE: This provision was added by TA-06-12 allowing a transfer of vesting rights through a rezoning that was approved but overturned by the courts-provision is no longer needed.

7The mixed-use building duplicates the shopfront building type and has at least two occupiable stories; at least 50% of the habitable area of the building shall be in residential use, the remainder shall be in commercial use.

c) Permitted Accessory Uses

  • commercial outdoor kennels, (9.10)
  • drive through windows associated with any use (9.12)
  • home occupations, (9.19)
  • helistop, (9.18)
  • outdoor storage, excluding construction equipment, (9.26)
  • solar energy facility, minor residential; located in the established rear or side yards or roof slopes or façade. (9.54)
  • solar energy facility, non-residential; located in the established rear or side yards or roof slopes, (9.54)
  • stalls or merchandise stands for outdoor sale of goods at street front; outdoor storage must be behind building and screened from view from public spaces8
  • warehousing accessory to merchandise showroom, within an enclosed building
  • accessory uses permitted in all districts, (8.11)

8 Items for outdoor sale are returned to building at end of each day; goods not brought in at close of business day are considered outdoor storage.

d) General Requirements

1) Along existing streets, new buildings shall respect the general spacing of structures, building mass and scale, and street frontage relationships of existing buildings.

  • New buildings which adhere to the scale, massing, volume, spacing, and setback of existing buildings along fronting streets exhibit demonstrable compatibility.
  • New buildings which exceed the scale and volume of existing buildings may demonstrate compatibility by varying the massing of buildings to reduce perceived scale and volume. The definition of massing in Article 12 illustrates the application of design techniques to reduce the visual perception of size and integrate larger buildings with pre-existing smaller buildings.
  • Nothing in this subsection shall be interpreted to conflict with the building design element provisions as found in N.C.G.S. 160D-702(b)  for structures subject to the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings.

2) On new streets, allowable building and lot types will establish the development pattern.

3) In major subdivisions and planned developments, the aggregate number of dwelling units contained in attached houses, apartment buildings, and mixed-use buildings shall not exceed 30% of the total number of dwelling units in a project.

4) Notwithstanding the limitations of 3), above,

(a) In a pedestrian-oriented development organized around a system of streets and blocks, and anchored with retail, restaurant, and entertainment uses, 100% of the dwelling units which are located in the same block with commercial uses may be contained in attached houses, apartment buildings, and mixed-use buildings. To qualify under this paragraph, at least one parking space per dwelling unit must be replaced in a parking deck which is located on the interior of the block, and at least 20% of the habitable first-floor area in each block must be devoted to commercial uses. Habitable first-floor area includes all first-floor building area that is used for interior human activity (including storage areas of retail shops, kitchen areas and pantries for restaurants, and similar uses). Habitable first floor area does not include the first floor of a parking deck nor outdoor areas used for restaurant seating or retail display. Hotels, light manufacturing and assembly facilities, and laboratories and associated research facilities are permitted within the development, but may not be used to meet the 20% minimum first-floor commercial requirement. The higher density residential environment permitted by this exception provides a full-time population which animates the streets, supports the businesses on a daily basis, and accesses goods and services without sole dependence on private vehicles.

(b) Within a Mixed-Use Node, the aggregate number of dwelling units contained in attached houses, apartment buildings, and mixed-use buildings shall not exceed 80% subject to the following requirements:

i. Housing density shall decrease in intensity on streets further away from the Commercial Use(s); apartment buildings and mixed-use buildings housing density shall not exceed 18 units per acre; attached housing density shall not exceed 8 units per acre; detached housing density shall not exceed 3 units per acre.
ii. A minimum of 50% of the node acreage must be for residential use
iii. All mixed-use buildings shall count towards the residential acreage requirements iv. An approved Mixed Use Node that contains less than 100 acres may be expanded to include parcels that are adjacent to the approved Mixed Use Node and its major thoroughfare. The number and type of dwelling units permitted at an expanded Mixed Use Node shall not exceed the overall allowable density as prescribed herein.

5) Where screening is required by Article 9 for activities involving any sale, use, repair, storage, or cleaning operation, the specified standard of Section 7.5 shall apply.

6) Any Highway Commercial District shall be bordered on at least one side by a major or minor thoroughfare.

7) Abutting Interstate 77, the specified buffer requirement of Section 7.5 applies.

8) The arrangement of multiple buildings on a single lot shall establish building facades generally parallel to the frontage property lines along existing streets and proposed interior streets.

9) Every building lot shall have frontage upon a public street or urban open space except as follows: in specific locations where factors beyond developer control, such as a limited access highway, an existing development, or the location of an existing intersection, prohibit completing a street connection in the Highway Commercial District, a private drive may be substituted for the interior street which cannot be connected to the public network.

10) See Section 8.16, Standards for Residential Lot Widths, Alleys, Garages and Parking in Residential Districts

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