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(A) Thoroughfare Overlay District.
(1) Established. The Thoroughfare Overlay District (TOD) is established for the purpose of maintaining a safe, efficient, and functional development pattern adjacent to major thoroughfares while maintaining an aesthetic streetscape environment. It is recognized that an enhanced development quality in areas of high visibility promotes economic development and stability in the entire community. The standards established in this section shall be applied, at the discretion of the Town Council, to nonresidential properties which adjoin major thoroughfares.
(2) Designation. Properties subject to these regulations shall be adjacent to, or have immediate access to a major thoroughfare. The boundaries follow the major thoroughfares both within the corporate limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction, and in no case extend more than 150 feet from the outer edge of the right-of-way of a thoroughfare.
(3) Permitted uses. All permitted and special uses of the underlying zoning district are allowed subject to the specific requirements and procedures for each classification and any standards listed herein.
(4) Dimensional requirements. The dimensional requirements of this overlay district shall be the same as the underlying zoning district.
(5) Street yard requirements.
(a) All new developments or major expansions of existing development (25% increase in building area, lot area, or parking requirement) shall provide a landscaped street yard as provided in Table 2-6.
Table 2-6 TOD Street Yard Requirements
Street Yard Width (feet)
(b) For purposes of this section, the street yard area is determined by multiplying the lot frontage, less driveways, times the average required width to determine the required street yard area. There shall be no structures allowed in this street yard, except as follows:
2. Drainage features designed to mimic the natural environment;
3. Public utilities and facilities;
4. Driveways and streets;
5. Sidewalks, pedestrian ways, or bikeways;
6. Other than a Development Identification Sign described in § 155.403, freestanding signs may not exceed six feet in height and 24 square feet per sign face.
(6) Landscape requirements.
(a) All required street yard areas shall be covered by lawn, ground cover, trees, shrubs, or mulch, except as noted above. Maintenance shall be the responsibility of the property owner. Landscaping shall be required according to Table 2-7 below.
Table 2-7 TOD Landscape Requirements
Min. Landscape Requirements
Trees (per 1,000 sq. ft. of street yard)
Shrubs (per 1,000 sq. ft. of street yard)
(b) The preservation of existing trees shall be required when practical, utilizing recognized professional standards. The species and size of all plant material shall be specified on the site plan, and at least 50% of the total shall be evergreen. Trees shall have a minimum height of six feet and shrubs must have a minimum height of 18 inches at planting and reach 30 inches within two years. Additional trees may substitute for shrubs on a one-for-one basis. The requirements set forth in this section may be used to fulfill up to 67% (two-thirds) of the landscaping required under § 155.402(D), except that landscaping within all parking areas for vehicles, as set forth in § 155.401(C)(3)(d)2., and buffers, as set forth in § 155.402(E)(2)(c) shall be provided completely, as required, in addition to these requirements.
(7) Access regulations. All driveways and public street intersections in a Thoroughfare Overlay District shall be subject to NCDOT and the town standards and permitting processes, whichever is applicable. Any parcel of land with less than 400 feet of frontage on a thoroughfare may have no more than one point of access to the thoroughfare. One additional driveway for each additional 400 feet of thoroughfare frontage shall be allowed, and one per 400 feet of additional frontage. Where medians are provided which prohibit turns into oncoming traffic, access points may be provided every 200 linear feet. No driveway shall be allowed within 300 feet of the intersection of two thoroughfares or within 200 feet of an intersection of any other public street on the thoroughfare. Driveways shall be a minimum of 200 feet apart (measured from center line to center line) on thoroughfares, and shall align with opposing drives, where possible. Shared driveways or parallel access roads shall be used when deemed necessary, and the appropriate legal documents may be required by the town prior to driveway permit issuance. If access to a lot or legally created parcel of land is physically unobtainable under these provisions, an access point may be approved which is located the greatest distance possible from an existing access point and in the safest possible location to be approved by NCDOT and/or the town. For the purpose of this section, adjacent lots in common ownership fronting on a thoroughfare in a Thoroughfare Overlay District shall be considered as one lot when determining permitted driveways.
(8) Alternative means of compliance. It is recognized that strict interpretation and application of these standards may create particular hardships in areas of unusual topographic condition, or in retrofitting existing developed properties which are expanded. The Board of Adjustment may grant a variance for any proposed development which proposes to meet any specific standard of this section via an alternate means of compliance, subject to making the following findings (in addition to those of a variance):
(a) The proposed development attempts to meet the intent of the Thoroughfare Overlay District.
(b) There are physical conditions, not only economic considerations, which prevent the proposed development from meeting the specific standards of this chapter.
(c) The proposed development will be designed to meet the standards of this section to the fullest extent possible.
(d) In determining alternative means of compliance, the Board may consider various features such as width in relation to opacity of landscaping in street yard, number of required parking spaces, and driveway locations and/or distances from nearby intersections.
(B) Watershed Protection Overlay (-WP). The use and development standards for the Watershed Protection Overlay (-WP) are found in § 155.501.
(C) Downtown Overlay District. The Downtown Overlay District is established for the purpose of fostering the economic vitality of the area within the district’s boundaries. It is recognized that an attractive and vibrant downtown promotes the economic development and stability of the entire community. The uses, character, and design of the public and private realm all contribute to the success of the downtown. The standards established herein shall be applied to all properties which are located within the district’s boundaries.
(1) Designation of Downtown Overlay District. This district shall be an overlay district and shall include all properties located wholly or partially (20% or more) within the Downtown Overlay District of the Town Zoning Map.
(2) Permitted uses.
(a) All permitted and special uses of the underlying zoning district are allowed subject to the specific requirements and procedures for each classification, subject to site plan approval and the additional requirements of this section.
(b) All nonresidential tenants, businesses, uses, and activities on the ground (first) floor of a building which fronts on Main Street shall be responsive to and provide services, goods, or otherwise engage in business with pedestrians and the general public. More specifically, the following use types are prohibited on the first floor (street level) of Main Street:
1. Businesses which exclusively engage in “by appointment only” clientele or do not have active reception areas which accept walk-in customers;
2. Residential uses. This does not include ancillary facilities, such as lobbies which serve upper story residential uses;
3. Drive-thru facilities;
(3) Sign regulations. The following criteria modifies, but does not replace, the text of § 155.403 “Signs”, and may be either more or less restrictive.
(a) All signs allowed in the Downtown Overlay District, with the exception of window/door signs, awning/marquee/canopy signs, and flags, shall have at least one distinguishing architectural or design feature, including but not limited to one of the following:
1. Exterior illumination with decorative lighting fixture;
2. Decorative or architectural mounting bracket;
3. Decorative border design that deviates from a standard rectangle;
4. Or some other design feature or embellishment that distinguishes the sign as high quality and enhancing of the downtown streetscape.
(b) Illumination. Illumination of sign shall not be restricted based on proximity to residential uses, but rather by the business hours of the use.
1. The minimum required clearance for any overhead sign, awning, or canopy is seven feet - six inches.
2. In order to ensure adequate pedestrian movement on the sidewalk (including the opening and closing of vehicular doors), no overhead sign, awning, or canopy shall be supported through the use of columns or other measure which requires it to be anchored to the ground
(d) Prohibited signs. Except for “Historic Signs”, the following additional signs shall be prohibited in the Downtown Overlay District:
1. All signs designated in § 155.403(E) “Signs Prohibited”;
2. Electronic changeable copy signs;
3. Freestanding signs that cannot meet the setback criteria;
5. Manual changeable copy signs, unless associated with a theater, assembly, or a church;
6. Drive-thru menu boards;
(e) Promotional banners and seasonal displays.
1. Small window posters advertising upcoming special events, sales events, or other such seasonal information are allowed on ground-floor storefront windows without requirement for a sign permit. A maximum of one 24-inch by 36-inch poster, or two 18-inch by 24-inch posters are allowed per storefront, and these posters must be relevant and current.
(f) Easels/sandwich boards/A-frame signs.
1. Easels/sandwich boards/A-frame signs shall be permitted provided that there is a minimum of five feet of sidewalk clearance.
2. Easels/sandwich boards/A-frame signs shall be a maximum of six square feet in area (per side).
3. Easels/sandwich boards/A-frame signs shall only be displayed during business hours, and may not be attached to anything else.
4. Easels/sandwich boards/A-frame signs shall be constructed of quality frame materials, such as decorative metal or wood; plastic shall not be allowed.
(g) Wall/fascia signs.
1. All tenants not on the ground floor and located within the same building with units accessed internally may only utilize a tenant identification sign (§ 155.403(G)(9)).
2. A wall sign designed and functioning as a larger version of a tenant identification sign (advertising for some or all on-site tenants) may be permitted provided that it:
A. Adheres to the dimensional requirements of a wall sign, and
B. Each tenant may not be advertised more than once per facade, if they are included on the modified wall sign.
1. Angled- or horizontally-projecting flagpoles may encroach into the right-of-way with an approved sign permit, although they must remain three feet from the back of curb. Permission from NCDOT may be required, depending on ownership of the right-of-way.
2. Only one flagpole per building or site is allowed, with a minimum required frontage as follows:
A. One angled- or horizontally-projecting flagpole allowed for buildings with 25 feet of building frontage.
3. An exemption to the maximum number of flags and clearance requirements is that each ground floor entrance may have one small flag (two square feet per side) projecting from adjacent to the door.
(4) Dimensional requirements.
(a) The purpose of modified setbacks on Main Street in the Downtown Overlay District is to provide adequate room for outdoor seating and dining, display of wares, an enhanced pedestrian realm, and create space for an active street life, while also continuing a unified visual building frontage along the street. This is in addition to the standard purpose for enforcing setbacks in the town.
(b) Setbacks and build-to lines for nonresidential and mixed use zoning districts:
1. The dimensional requirements of this Overlay District are the same as the underlying zoning district, with the following modifications to setbacks and dimensional standards on that portion of Main Street that is within the Downtown Overlay District.
A. Minimum and maximum setbacks are established on properties that front on roads, sidewalks, or public rights-of-way:
i. A minimum setback line is established at 12 feet from back of curb.
ii. A maximum setback line is established at 14 feet from back of curb.
iii. The Board of Adjustment may grant a variance to allow an alternate building setback that pulls the building or a portion thereof closer to the street to provide consistency with adjacent properties and continue an established streetscape rhythm.
iv. The Board of Adjustment may gant a variance to vary the maximum setback requirement in order to preserve the historic character or landmark status of an existing building, to preserve the character of a park or public square, or to ensure the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements are met.
v. Architectural, landscaping, or other site elements may still be required as part of the site plan to continue the appearance of a unified frontage with neighboring buildings.
B. The street-facing facades of a building are permitted to exceed the minimum and maximum setback lines established above to allow for decorative, recessed or projected entries, balconies, or window treatments that are in accordance with other parts of this section.
C. If a building is set back further than neighboring buildings, some design element shall be incorporated in front of the first floor facade, such as knee wall, first floor roof projection designating outdoor seating area, or other architectural element or design feature that continues the streetscape rhythm of neighboring buildings.
(a) Widths of access ways, as described in Table 4-1 “Dimensional Standards of Access Ways”, may be reduced to match the dimensions of existing streets in the Downtown Overlay District, with approval by the Planning Director, Engineering Director, and Fire Marshal as part of the standard review of individual development projects.
(b) Parking requirements.
A. Cross access shall be provided between adjacent parking lots to minimize the number of access points along streets. The Board of Adjustment may grant a variance to this requirement if cross access is not feasible due to natural features or site layout restrictions. Cross access shall be accompanied by a cross access easement or agreement, recorded with the Clerk of Court. Single family residential and duplexes are exempt from this requirement.
B. Any new construction in the Downtown Overlay District with frontage on a public right-of-way shall be required to formalize on-street, parallel parking, along the frontage(s) of the property, including landscaped bumpouts at intersections. Adjacent on-street parking spaces may count toward meeting the parking requirement for a site.
C. All parking spaces within the Downtown Overlay District shall be paved. Permeable paving that is dustless and meeting the load-bearing standards required for its use and meeting any other engineering standards of the town may be allowed if approved by the Town Engineer. No grass, gravel, dirt, or other non-engineered surfaces are allowed.
D. Multi-story parking structures/decks.
i. If visible from the street, multi-story parking structures/decks shall place the shortest dimension along the street, if possible.
ii. On Main Street, multi-story parking structures/decks shall incorporate usable spaces for nonresidential uses (i.e., storefronts and/or tenant spaces) along the entirety of first floor facades that front on public rights-of-way, excepting entrances and exits.
iii. Multi-story parking structures/decks shall be architecturally consistent with surrounding buildings and shall meet all other criteria of this section.
2. Residential off-street parking.
A. Residential off-street parking requirements may be satisfied with offsite parking provided the following are met:
i. The off-site parking area is in proximity to the parcel on which the residential dwellings are located;
ii. The off-site parking spaces are designated as reserved for the residential units which they serve;
iii. Required handicap parking spaces are located as close as possible to the residential dwellings;
iv. Required guest spaces may utilize adjacent on-street parking, to the extent that it is feasible and that those spaces remain publicly accessible.
v. All other relevant conditions of § 155.401(C)(3)(c), “Off-Site Parking”, are met.
3. Nonresidential development and uses.
A. All nonresidential and mixed use developments shall utilize alley loaded and/or parking to the rear of the building.
B. The Board of Adjustment may grant a variance to the parking and loading requirements of § 155.401 for business or structure expansions provided that as much off-street parking and loading as can reasonably be provided is provided, and no foreseeable traffic congestion problems will be created.
C. New construction shall provide bicycle rack(s) on site or pay fee-in-lieu. The fee-in-lieu shall be calculated using an average purchase price for the bicycle rack(s) plus installation cost, and will be used to provide appropriate bicycle infrastructure and parking facilities in the public right-of-way or on public property in downtown.
(c) Landscaping, screening, and buffering requirements.
1. The Board of Adjustment may grant a variance to the landscaping, screening, and buffering requirements provided that as much landscaping, screening, and buffering as can be reasonably provided is provided.
2. All landscaping shall be designed to reduce unsafe areas of limited visibility.
3. Berms may not be used for required screening.
4. Landscape buffers or opaque visual screening, except that used for screening parking areas to a maximum height of three feet, shall not be required along any public right-of-way.
5. Fences or walls not used for required screening or for providing security for a parking area shall be limited to four feet in height. This requirement does not apply to single family residential, duplexes, or townhomes. Chain link fencing is prohibited.
6. Plastic, vinyl, and similar low quality materials are prohibited for planters and window boxes.
7. Street trees.
A. At the discretion of the Planning Director, street trees shall be required at appropriate, coordinated locations along all public rights-of-way at an interval that mimics the existing tree placement in that area.
8. The following are considered minor administrative modifications:
A. In zoning districts where the maximum allowed impervious area infringes on site area available for landscaping, the number of site interior landscaping materials may be reduced up to 25% as a minor administrative modification.
B. Understory tree species may be substituted for canopy trees. This includes trees required as part of overlay districts, site interior landscaping requirements, parking lot landscaping, street trees, and incompatibility buffers.
C. High-quality, raised landscaping planters may be substituted for required plantings provided that the planters match the existing streetscape materials and design palette if adjacent to a public right-of-way, or that of the primary structure. Plastic, vinyl, and similar low quality materials are prohibited.
(6) Neighborhood character, appearance, and architectural design.
(a) General requirements applicable to all properties.
1. Right-of-way shall be dedicated (if necessary) to allow for two-way traffic and on-street parking (both sides) along public streets.
2. In new construction, a minimum of eight feet of mostly-unobstructed walking surface (from back of curb) shall be provided for pedestrian traffic on Main Street. Some of this area may be used for public display of wares or outdoor seating, pursuant to the relevant portions of this chapter, so long as a minimum of five
feet of fully unobstructed clearance remains for pedestrian traffic.
3. Structures shall be oriented so that their primary facade faces and is parallel with the principal street on which they are located.
4. Nonresidential and mixed use infill development shall occupy the full width of the lot width to create a continuous streetscape. Allowances may be made for required vehicular and pedestrian ingress/egress points, courtyards, or other pedestrian friendly points of interest.
5. The following shall apply to properties on Main Street:
A. New and infill development shall be a minimum of two stories, with the uppermost story being enclosed space, space for pedestrian amenities, or a combination thereof. A maximum of 25% of the uppermost story may be set aside to allow room for mechanical equipment.
B. Buildings shall not have a single tenant space which exceeds 10,000 square feet in area on the first floor, unless at least one external, storefront entrance is provided for every 5,000 square feet, and the internal space is designed to be able to be partitioned.
6. Corner lots on Main Street.
A. Corner buildings shall match or exceed the height of adjacent buildings, with a minimum height of two stories.
B. Facades shall be oriented so that they face and are parallel with adjoining streets.
C. Where practicable, vehicular access shall be located on the side street and as far as possible from the intersection.
A. Quality building materials shall be used on the exterior facades of new construction, replacement, renovation, or covering of an existing facade. The following materials are prohibited from use: stucco; metal panels; corrugated metal; fiberglass; metal screening; horizontal lap siding made of plastic, vinyl, or aluminum; concrete block (flat or textured); and concrete panels.
A. Opaque windows shall be limited to a maximum of 10% of the total window requirement of a building. In this instance, “opaque” is defined as any window material or glazing (glass block, frosted or smoked windows, wraps, etc.) that inhibits view from the outside to the inside of the building.
B. False windows or faux windows are not permitted on the first floor on any facade that is visible from a public right-of-way.
C. Security bars or similar theft prevention devices of high visual impact shall not be allowed on any window that is visible to the public. Any security measures shall be of low visual impact or seamlessly integrated into the design of the window, building, or facade.
D. Nonresidential and mixed use zoning districts, and conforming nonresidential buildings in residential zoning districts.
i. For the purpose of calculating the window percentages required below, a building floor shall be measured from two feet above finished floor to a height of ten feet.
ii. The ground floor of a building shall provide a minimum window coverage of 60% on the primary facade. Corner buildings may reduce the ground floor window coverage to 30% on the side street facade.
iii. Upper floors shall provide a minimum of 30% window coverage of the facade, and simple patterns shall be used to subdivide the windows to add character to the buildings. Horizontal massing of upper floor windows is prohibited.
iv. Buildings shall not be altered as to reduce the amount or area of first (ground) floor storefront windows to less than the amount specified in this section.
v. Ground floor windows and translucent doors within 20 feet of the back of curb along a road frontage shall not be covered or screened with window coverings, so as to obstruct visibility over more than 25% of the surface area, for more than one-half of business hours. Existing violations shall be removed no later than December 31, 2019.
vi. Ground floor storefront windows shall incorporate at least one architectural design element to enhance the visual appeal of the district. Elements may include but are not limited to soldier courses, brick patterns, columns, knee walls, recessed entrances, peaked or arched windows, or decorative window frames. Large windows that open and provide a direct connection to the street, such as roll-up, accordion, or retracting windows are permitted, so long as they blend into the character of the street and district.
A. Parapet style roofs are required for all new development that is not single family residential or duplexes.
B. Peaked roofs are prohibited on new or infill development on of Main Street.
C. Facades with rooflines greater than 50 feet in length shall incorporate a change in height. This roofline variation shall be minimum 12 inches, for a minimum of 20% of the total length of the facade. Roofline variations shall be evenly distributed along the facade to balance the overall appearance of the building.
A. New or replacement of existing utilities shall be undergrounded where practicable.
B. New utilities shall be consolidated with existing utilities to reduce the proliferation of overhead wires and cables.
C. All mechanical equipment shall be completely screened from view and located on the roof, where practicable, or an alternate location (for instance underground) that achieves the same screening performance standard.
11. Entrances. The following shall apply to entrances in nonresidential and mixed use zoning
districts, and in conforming nonresidential buildings in residential zoning districts:
A. Existing entrances with features such as recessed or angled entries shall not be removed, except to restore the storefront to a more historically accurate design.
B. Entrance doors shall be a minimum of 25% translucent.
C. Shingled or plastic awnings are prohibited.
(7) Incentives and disincentives.
(a) The town encourages the use, re-use, renovation, and other creative endeavors that preserve historic structures, create new structures, or otherwise enhance the private or public realm, and which add value and enhance or promote the character of downtown Clayton. To that purpose, the following incentives and disincentives are established in the Downtown Overlay District:
1. Outdoor seating and dining areas and outdoor display areas, on private property and in public rights-of-way, shall be allowed with approval of a zoning compliance permit and accompanying dimensioned site drawing complying with Table 2-1 (§ 155.202) and §§ 155.308(D)(5) and (6) “Outdoor Display and Sales” and “Outdoor Dining.” In this instance and within this Overlay District, the zoning compliance permit expressly replaces any other requirement for a site plan application.
A. Outdoor seating and dining areas and site elements shall be constructed of high-quality materials. Plastic or unfinished wood are not allowed for tables, chairs, planters, window boxes, benches, or similar.
B. All outdoor seating and dining and site elements shall be kept in good working order and appearance and shall not fall into disrepair or they shall be removed immediately.
C. All accouterments associated with outdoor seating and dining (tables, chairs, benches, planters, bollards, dividers, umbrellas, space heaters, lighting, entrance menus, etc.) shall be maintained to a high standard which demonstrates appreciation of the special character of the district.
2. Properties in the Downtown Overlay District may be developed at densities and intensities that are consistent with the town's adopted Future Land Use Map, subject to the approval of a special use permit.
3. Downtown properties that meet other eligibility requirements may apply for:
A. The Facade and Site Element Improvement Grant;
B. The Clayton Downtown Redevelopment Incentive Grant (CDRIG).
1. Any demolition of a historically-contributing building or structure in the Downtown Overlay District shall result in a one-year waiting period between application for a demolition permit and the time that the demolition occurs, and a one-year moratorium (following demolition) of development applications and buildings permits upon that lot. The Town Council can waive the waiting period and the moratorium by a majority vote if the proposed new development is determined to be in the best interest of adjacent property owners and the town.
(Ord. 2005-11-02, passed 11-21-05; Am. Ord. 2012-01-04, passed 1-3-12; Am. Ord. 2012-04-02, passed 4-2-12; Am. Ord. 2012-12-02, passed 12-3-12; Am. Ord. 2012-12-04, passed 12-3-12; Am. Ord. 2014-06-10, passed 6-16-14; Am. Ord. 2016-04-04, passed 4-4-16; Am. Ord. 2017-09-03, passed 9-5-17; Am. Ord. 2018-05-05, passed 5-21-18; Am. Ord. 2019-02-02, passed 2-18-19; Am. Ord. 2021- 02-02, passed 2-15-21)