In a major vote, Charlotte leaders approve new development rules

In a major vote, Charlotte leaders approve new development rules

  • Charlotte Living Realty
  • 08/23/22

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.

Yes, but: Despite its significance, officials were once again far from a unanimous consensus. (Renee Perkins Johnson was absent because of COVID-19.)

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.
Charlotte City Council takes the vote on the Unified Development Ordinance. Photo: Screenshot of YouTube stream

Charlotte City Council takes the vote on the Unified Development Ordinance. Photo: Screenshot of YouTube stream

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.

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