7.13 Evaluation Criteria

.1 In evaluating the layout of lots and open space, the following criteria will be considered by the town as indicating design appropriate to the site's natural, historic, and cultural features, and meeting the purposes of this ordinance. Diversity and originality in lot layout shall be encouraged to achieve the best possible relationship between development and conservation areas. Accordingly, the town shall evaluate proposals to determine whether the proposed subdivision plan:

(a) Protects and preserves all floodways, and wetlands.

(b) Preserves and maintains mature woodlands, existing fields, pastures, meadows, and orchards, and creates sufficient buffer areas to minimize conflicts between residential and agricultural uses. For example, locating house lots and driveways within wooded areas is generally recommended, with two exceptions. The first involves significant wildlife habitat or mature woodlands which raise an equal or greater preservation concern, as described in "e" and "h" below. The second involves predominantly agricultural areas, where remnant tree groups provide the only natural areas for wildlife habitat.

(c) If development must be located on open fields or pastures because of greater constraints in all other parts of the site, dwellings should be sited on the least prime agricultural soils, or in locations at the far edge of a field, as seen from existing public roads. Other considerations include whether the development will be visually buffered from existing public roads, such as by a planting screen consisting of a variety of indigenous native trees, shrubs and wildflowers (specifications for which should be based upon a close examination of the distribution and frequency of those species found in a typical nearby roadside verge or hedgerow).

(d) Maintains or creates an upland buffer of natural native species vegetation adjacent to wetlands and surface waters, including creeks, streams, springs, lakes and ponds.

(e) Designs around existing hedgerows and treelines between fields or meadows. Minimizes impacts on large woodlands (greater than five acres), especially those containing many mature trees or a significant wildlife habitat, or those not degraded by invasive vines. However, woodlands in poor condition with limited management potential can provide suitable locations for residential development. When any woodland is developed, great care shall be taken to design all disturbed areas (for buildings, roads, yards, septic disposal fields, etc.) in locations where there are no large trees or obvious wildlife areas, to the fullest extent that is practicable.

(f) Leaves scenic views and vistas unblocked or uninterrupted, particularly as seen from public roadways. For example, in open agrarian landscapes, a deep "no-build, no plant" buffer is recommended along the public roadway where those views or vistas are prominent or locally significant. In wooded areas where the sense of enclosure is a feature that should be maintained, a deep "no-build, no-cut" buffer should be respected, to preserve existing vegetation.

(g) Avoids siting new construction on prominent ridges by taking advantage of lower topographic features.

(h) Protects wildlife habitat areas of species listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and/or by the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources.

(i) Designs around and preserves sites of historic, archaeological or cultural value, and their environs, insofar as needed to safeguard the character of the feature, including spring houses, barn foundations, cellar holes, earthworks, burial grounds, etc.

(j) Protects rural roadside character and improves public safety and vehicular carrying capacity by avoiding development fronting onto existing public roads. Establishes buffer zones along the scenic corridor of rural roads with historic buildings, hedgerows, etc.

(k) Landscapes common areas (such as community greens), cul-de-sac islands, and both sides of new streets with native specie shade trees and flowering shrubs with high wildlife conservation value.

(l) Provides active recreational areas in suitable locations offering convenient access by residents, and adequately screened from nearby house lots.

(m) Includes a pedestrian circulation system designed to assure that pedestrians can walk safely and easily on the site, between properties and activities or special features within the neighborhood open space system. All roadside footpaths should connect with off-road trails, which in turn should link with potential open space on adjoining undeveloped parcels (or with existing open space on adjoining developed parcels, where applicable).

(n) Provides open space that is reasonably contiguous. For example, fragmentation of open space should be minimized so that these resource areas are not divided into numerous small parcels located in various parts of the development. To the greatest extent practicable, this land shall be designed as a single block with logical, straightforward boundaries. Long thin strips of conservation land shall be avoided, unless the conservation feature is linear or unless such configuration is necessary to connect with other streams or trails. The open space shall generally abut existing or potential open space land on adjacent parcels, and shall be designed as part of larger contiguous and integrated greenway systems.