Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Community Members React to Proposed Developments

Charlotte City Council Zoning Meeting; May 15, 2023

A rendering of how a proposed development will be laid out.
Community members from the Yorkmount neighborhood spoke out against a proposed development in southwest Charlotte on Monday.

Charlotte City Council met for its monthly zoning meeting on Monday night, hearing feedback from residents on a few different zoning petitions in which developers want to build new residential communities in northeast and southwest Charlotte.

Meeting’s Rezoning Decisions

Council’s first decision was to approve a petition that clears the way for a community of 320+ homes near the intersection of Mount Holly-Huntersville and Oakdale roads, as well as a petition for construction of a 132-home community on Mallard Creek Road at Alexander Road. Council member Renee Johnson worked with neighbors in Colvard Park to bring the original plan from around 250 rental units to 132 homes, she said, with a cap mandating that a maximum of 20% of which will be rentals.

Council approved a text amendment to city ordinance that will ban landfills from being built in residential areas, a change that James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell credits to the work of around 200 citizens along Pleasant Grove Road who stood against one such project.

A text amendment that would have added another step for developers to introduce new buildings with drive-thru uses as a way to discourage such development in some areas failed to get enough votes.

During the drive-thru discussion, Tariq Bokhari said there’s a chasm on council between folks who want to move away from cars and those who believe they are a necessity for a large percentage of the population. He welcomes more open discussion to bridge the gap but would not support the amendment.

Meeting’s Rezoning Hearings

Vinroy Reid, owner of Mama’s Caribbean, is facing community opposition in Oakhurst as he’s petitioning to open a new bakery and restaurant on Monroe Road at Char-Meck Lane. One neighbor spoke against Reid’s plans for outdoor events with amplified music.

“I applaud Vinroy for trying to do something good, but I just don’t think outdoor events and loud music are good for this neighborhood,” the neighbor said, stating that he hopes this debate at least brings some attention to the need for positive development in that area.

“We live in a multicultural society where you get people who celebrate and do business differently. I’m bringing change to a community and I’m hoping to work with the neighbors. We won’t be playing the music too loud to where he can’t come and enjoy,” said Reid.

Dimple Ajmera pointed out that, if the rezoning petition were approved, outdoor music would still be restricted after 8:30 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday, and 10 p.m. on weekends. The neighbor says he knows that but he doesn’t believe outdoor events would be “appropriate” in general, adding that the idea of experiencing more events like ones Reid has hosted on the property in the past is “scary” to him.

Asked if he would be willing to revise his petition to restaurant use only, Reid says no, he wants to celebrate his culture and this is how he plans to do it. Ajmera encouraged the two to come together outside of the meeting to work out a compromise.

Marjorie Molina, who represents the district where the restaurant would be located, said she wouldn’t approve it if it were up for a decision already and she hopes Reid can do something to calm the concerns of neighbors before she’ll feel comfortable voting for it.

County commissioner Vilma Leake was one of nearly a dozen speakers signed up to speak against a proposed development at the corner of Nations Ford Road and South Tryon Street. The multi-family residential community would include 350 units and 5,000 square feet of non-residential space.

Residents of the Yorkmount neighborhood say they’re being boxed in by new developments without any accompanying plans to help ease the growing traffic. “We feel replacement of the strip mall is an injustice not only to Yorkmount but to the business owners in the strip mall.”

“Stop the growth! Stop the growth!” said Leake. “A moratorium needs to take place until we can get things in order. The Crescent is where we are, where all the problems are, on the Black side of town. And that’s where all these apartment complexes are, the west side of town.”

There is also strong community opposition to this petition on Mallard Creek Road at Galloway Road, which proposes a residential community of 186 for-sale townhomes. Staff is not currently recommending this project for approval.

A representative with the developer addressed council first, stating that this petition has already been changed from a for-rent community to for-sale per community feedback, and in order to take away density by 30 homes as requested it would need to go back to for-rent.

After hearing from those community members in her district, council member Renee Johnson for the second floated the idea that she’d like to see the current council overturn aspects of the UDO that allow more by-right development and density as passed by the previous council in 2022.

Victoria Watlington said she would like to see the current council defer the implementation of the UDO, which is currently scheduled to go into effect on June 1, due to issues that community members are voicing with the by-right development policies that will come with it.

Charlotte City Council will meet again for a business meeting on Monday, May 22.

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