Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Commonwealth Development Proposed

April 17, 2023

Patrick Cannon
A rezoning petition approved at Monday night’s meeting paved the way for this mixed-use development in SouthPark. (Photo courtesy of City of Charlotte)

Charlotte City Council met for its monthly zoning meeting on Monday, April 17, deciding on one zoning petition and holding hearings for others. Below we’ll run down a few of the discussions that took place, including some debate about a potential development on Commonwealth Avenue.

Monday’s Rezoning Decisions

After all but one decision in front of Charlotte City Council on Monday was deferred until May — save for those included in the consent agenda — council did vote to approve the rezoning of a parcel between Johnston Oehler Road in northeast Charlotte where a home and barn currently sit to allow for a 19-unit complex, originally planned as a mix of duplexes and quads but no longer clarified.

Council approved a text amendment that will no longer allow for landfills to be opened in all zoning districts after neighbors pushed back against one planned for Kelly Road in northwest Charlotte, as reported here by WSOC. That project will still move forward, however, as it’s already approved and is grandfathered in.

Monday’s Rezoning Hearings

In the first hearing in front of council on Monday, a resident of the 1315 East condominiums spoke against the rezoning of the Starbucks property across Scott Avenue from his complex on East Boulevard. The proposed rezoning would allow for development of the Starbucks parcel that could go up to 80 feet. The resident asked for a 65-foot maximum, which would match 1315 East.

That was followed by a hearing for a large rezoning request on 182+ acres near the I-85/I-485 interchange in the University area. The petition proposes a mix of uses including residential not exceeding 1,950 units, an elementary school and a park. The zoning committee did not recommend for approval.

Staff has asked for more clarity on what housing types would go into the space and a commitment to more non-residential components that would provide supportive uses for the surrounding community, among other things.

If approved, five acres would be saved for the elementary school while another 9 acres would be set aside for a Mecklenburg County park.

Driggs asked how far the gap is between city staff and developers, to which Dave Pettine with the city said, “I don’t think we’re too far apart, we see some benefits with the project … We’ve got some work to do but I don’t think it’s insurmountable.”

A rendering of one potential design for the proposed University development.

This would be a 10-15 year project, says Collin Brown, speaking for the developer.

Mayor Vi Lyles says she’s heard a lot of discussion around parks, bike lanes, traffic improvements and a school at this site tonight but no mention of affordable housing included in the 1,950 units. She reminds those in attendance that local teachers make $31,000 a year on average, and they need to be able to live in the communities they work in.

Commonwealth Rezoning Petition

Next up, a developer presented a proposed rezoning on Commonwealth Avenue at the former Charlotte Fire Credit Union site (between The Plaza and The Julien apartment complex) that would allow for a mixed-use development including up to 175 multi-family residential units.

Staff does not recommend for approval, as they are concerned with height and a provision that would allow for a drive-thru use at the site.

Collin Brown, speaking for the developers, acknowledged that it is a “funny drive-thru request,” stating that Charlotte Fire Department would like to return their credit union to the site and that’s why the drive-thru provision is in the petition.

Allen Nelson with the Commonwealth-Morningside Neighborhood Association spoke against the petition, stating that the height alone is “drastically different from anything nearby.” The requested maximum height is 150 feet. Staff would like to see it decreased to an 80-foot maximum.

An image showing a size comparison of the new Commonwealth development were it to be approved.

The Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association and Plaza Midwood Merchants Association are also against the petition. An image from the CMNA showed at the meeting gave an idea of how tall the building would be compared to the surrounding community.

Tariq Bokhari said the Commonwealth proposal is just an early example of how the Unified Development Ordinance will allow new developments by right and “all hell is going to break loose” as community members learn what will be allowed in their neighborhoods come June 1 when the UDO takes effect.

Charlotte Planning Director Alyson Craig clarified that this sort of development will not necessarily be allowed by right in the UDO, as the recommended use for the space is a community activity center, for which there are two different types. “This may be where we recommend the lower one,” Craig said, referring to maximum height limits.

Council will meet again for a business meeting on Monday, April 24.

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