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Davidson Planning Director Jason Burdette, Stantec Consultant Craig Lewis, and Davidson Senior Planner Trey Akers

The Town of Davidson’s Rural Area Plan Wins Prestigious CNU Charter Award
Visionary Strategy preserves rural land, creates livable town centers


On Friday, The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) honored the Town of Davidson’s Rural Area Plan among eleven professional and three student winners of its 17th annual Charter Awards, which 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 principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism, 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. “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 (over six square miles) preserved by the plan, allowing for the development of compact hamlets and villages on one-third of the area.
 
The plan, which was adopted in the spring of 2017, will save 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. The plan is viewable here: www.townofdavidson.org/RuralAreaPlan.
 
Known for its namesake college and iconic Main Street, 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. Preserving open space in a time of rising development pressure, while fostering equitable development, requires long-term, out-of-the-box thinking.
 
“We believe this plan can serve as a model for other communities regionally as well as nationally,” says Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte.
 
This year, CNU recognized eleven professional designs and three student design projects across the United States and in South Africa, England, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Iran. The awards were announced at a ceremony May 18, during CNU’s annual Congress, a 4-day event that brings together 1,500+ people to discuss, debate, engage, and advance innovations and strategies in city- and town-building.

Regarded as the preeminent award for excellence in urban design, the CNU Charter Awards have honored a select number of winners and honorable mentions since 2002. In 2018, the jury focused on a specific aspect of the Charter’s principles: projects that advanced equitable and inclusive placemaking.

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is an international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, and get around. We believe that well-designed cities and neighborhoods are crucial for our health, economy, and environment. We build places people love.

Our 2600 members are diverse global thought-leaders on design, development, policy, implementation, and activism. They work in communities across the world—from major urban centers to historic small towns. From our annual Congress to our strategic policy initiatives, CNU connects and empowers the professionals, leaders, advocates, and citizens building places where people and businesses can thrive and prosper.

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