In the final major vote for the sitting city council, Charlotte leaders voted 6-4 to approve over 600 pages of development regulations Monday night.
Why it matters: The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) will shape how Charlotte grows for decades to come. It goes into effect June 1, 2023.
- Developers will refer to the text for rules on building in the city. It covers everything from parking to open space to building height.
Context: City leaders have been trying to rewrite development policies for more than six years.
- When former city planner Taiwo Jaiyeoba started in early 2018, he put the UDO efforts on pause and prioritized creating a vision for the city’s future.
- That vision, called the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, was endorsed by a 6-5 margin last year.
Yes, but: Despite its significance, officials were once again far from a unanimous consensus. (Renee Perkins Johnson was absent because of COVID-19.)
- Council members still clashed on one of the most controversial changes to single-family zoning. The UDO allows duplexes and triplexes in all residential neighborhoods by right. Quadruplexes are also permitted if they meet certain criteria.
Opponents argue allowing multiplexes by right will worsen gentrification.
- “The communities most susceptible to the pitfalls of this policy will be the ones least equipped to combat those pitfalls,” outgoing District 5 Rep. Matt Newton said Monday. He added that those were areas where land is cheaper and the neighbors lack the resources to legally protect themselves. “For those keeping score: That is East and West Charlotte.”
- Some opponents have also said eliminating single-family-only zoning could harm a neighborhood’s character.
- Of note: District 3’s Victoria Watlington attempted to delay the broadened land eligibility for duplexes and triplexes, but she didn’t have the votes.
The other side: Councilman at-large Braxton Winston argued that eliminating “exclusionary” single-family-only zoning would improve the housing stock and lower prices.
- “When you replace one home with three or four homes, you get more housing,” Winston said. “When you get more housing, you can supply more demand.”
- The Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Commission supported the immediate UDO passage.
Also, at-large council member Dimple Ajmera said she wanted to approve the UDO for its protection of the city’s trees. Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt emphasized this was a years-long process involving more than just the dozen officials at the dais, but also committees, staff, professionals and citizens.
- “None of us on the council got everything they wanted in this document,” Ajmera said. “That’s how governance works”
What’s next: The UDO is considered a “living document.” City leaders will likely make edits to it in smaller votes moving forward.
[Read more: 5 ways Charlotte is rewriting development rules]
Separately, the city took the first step toward creating multiple social districts across the city.
What’s happening: Council unanimously adopted language to allow drinking in the streets within defined areas.
Yes, but: Where those districts will be is yet to be determined.
What’s next: City staff is expected to create a process for neighborhoods to apply for social district status in the coming months.
- Plaza Midwood businesses are volunteering as the guinea-pig social district for Charlotte.