Cary: Subdivision Ordinances

Through the process of creating its 2001 Land Use Plan, the town of Cary, NC, formulated goals for itself: retain a sense of place, have a more human-scale and pedestrian-oriented environment, avoid strip development along arterials, focus commercial activity into discrete nodes, and increase connectivity. Street connectivity was seen as a way to foster a sense of community by creating places that encouraged informal, casual interactions and meetings.

The town emphasized street-connectivity standards when creating its Design Guidelines, which immediately followed the Land Use Plan. The guidelines outlined connectivity characteristics, such as developments should be linked by roads and continuous sidewalks and have easy-to- use internal-circulation networks for all modes of travel. The guidelines also divided developments into different categories and provided developers with illustrative plans and a checklist of desired elements for each development type. For residential subdivisions, the design guidelines recommended reducing the use of cul-de-sacs or adapting them to include pedestrian or bicycle connections.

The 2003 update to Cary’s Land Development Ordinance mandated that blocks should be no more than 1,250′ in length to create minimum street-connectivity standards for new residential development.

The town’s 2007 Pedestrian Plan recommended further updates to the Design Guidelines and Land Development Ordinance to improve pedestrian connectivity standards throughout the town. Recommended edits included requiring vehicular and pedestrian access to at least two public streets for all developments with more than 100 residential units and creating a pedestrian connectivity index to supplement the existing vehicular-oriented street connectivity index.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.