Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Cotswold Flooding Issues Revealed in Zoning Hearing

Dec. 18, 2023

Charlotte city skyline from North Tryon street
A major NC DOT project coming to Independence Boulevard and flooding concerns in Cotswold were revealed to council during Monday night’s meeting. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Charlotte City Council met on Monday night for a zoning meeting, its last such meeting of the calendar year. During the meeting, a major NC DOT project coming to Independence Boulevard and flooding concerns in Cotswold were revealed to council.

These meetings consist of decisions at the beginning of the meeting, during which council either approves or denies proposed rezoning petitions, followed by public hearings, which include presentations by developers and a chance for residents to speak in support of or against each petition. 

Here’s a look at some of the notable decisions and hearings from the meeting.

Zoning Decisions

Before moving to approve the development of 70 townhomes on a 9.23-acre lot of Mallard Creek Road near the Lexington neighborhood in northeast Charlotte, District 4 rep Renee Johnson pointed out that developers Leon & Jennifer Chisolm live in the district. 

“That’s what we want,” Johnson said, “where neighbors aren’t displaced by development but are a part of it.”

Planning Commission member Rebekah Whilden tweeted out a cautionary reminder about Johnson’s statement, reminding folks that it could be considered a violation of state law and local ordinance.

“Just FYI … It is illegal to consider the owner of the parcel during land use decisions,” Whilden tweeted. “Having members of city council who still don’t know zoning law or policy years after joining council is … not okay.”\

Council approved a rezoning requested by the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition at the current site of its community garden on the corner of West Boulevard and Clanton Road. 

The rezoning brings them one step closer to making the Three Sisters Market co-op grocery a reality. In March 2022, we reported on the longtime efforts to bring  co-op grocery to west Charlotte

Zoning Decisions

Two neighbors signed up to speak against a rezoning that would allow for the development of 14 townhomes on Fairview Road near Park Road. 

The first speaker spoke on behalf of the HOA at SouthPark City Homes, a separate townhome community across Fairview Road. The HOA board believes construction of another townhome community across the street would have negative impacts on stormwater drainage and traffic.

A handful of speakers addressed council about a proposed 80-acre rezoning on Independence Boulevard across from Sardis Road on the Matthews border, a property that’s currently wooded for the most part save for one home built in 1928. 

NC DOT has already planned a new interchange at the site, plus an extension of Sardis Road that will drastically change that part of Independence Boulevard and the surrounding area. 

A look at an NC DOT project planned for Independence Boulevard at Sardis Road, not including the proposed development discussed on Monday night, which would be just above Independence on this map.

Most of the speakers reside on Lakeview Circle, which would be directly behind the new community of rental properties. Their concerns included wildlife habitat conservation, pollution, noise reduction and floodplain management.

Matthews Mayor Pro Tem Gina Hoover showed up to speak against the development, citing her constituents’ concerns about school overcrowding and other issues. She asked that, if the petition is approved, the 20-foot buffer between the properties closest to the Matthews’ residents homes be increased to 35 feet.   

A rep for the developers pointed out that they are not asking to rezone the portions of the property that border Matthews and the community where the speakers reside, though they will build single-family homes on that portion of the property. 

The yellow portion of this map shows the areas that developers plan to keep zoned for single-family zoning.

The community would consist of apartment buildings fronting Independence Boulevard, duplex/townhome rentals in the middle, and single-family homes in the back bordering Matthews. 

The site plan also shows that a portion at the northernmost point of the property will be preserved for tree save and the Irvins Creek Greenway, with pedestrian access points to the greenway from the new community.

Neighbors who live on properties that back up to the parcel shared photos and video of the existing flooding issues that their neighborhood is facing. They asked that council not allow for another development that could exacerbate these issues. “Anything beyond this becomes catastrophic.”

Photos of one Cotswold resident's backyard looks good on a normal day and fully flooded after heavy rain
Photos of one Cotswold resident’s backyard on a normal day (left) and after heavy rain.

District rep Marjorie Molina said it was “breathtaking” to see the photos and video of the flooding shared by residents, adding that those alone warrant “additional conversations” regardless of whether this petition moves forward.

Dimple Ajmera said she cannot support the petition as is while the current flooding issues exist. “We need to look at our own liability” for what’s already happening on those neighbors’ properties, she said. 

Council heard a presentation on a petition to rezone a residential property at the corner of Selwyn Avenue and Park Road across from Park Selwyn Shopping Center that would allow for the preservation and potential adaptive reuse of a single-family home that has been used commercially in the past.

There is no concrete plan in place for a new use at the site, which is currently leased for residential living, but the proposed rezoning to mixed-use would specifically allow for a patio expansion.

The owner of the home next door spoke against the rezoning, saying that allowing for it would undercut the “character, values and essence of our residential neighborhood.” He pointed out that 3G Investments and Developments has already purchased five nearby properties along Selwyn.

The property in question at the corner of Selwyn Avenue and Park Road.

The neighbor seemed concerned that the developers’ goals might be to open a bar on the property, which would allow for music and other loud noise until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weeknights, with the patio reaching as little as 12 feet from his children’s bedrooms. 

Tariq Bokhari said that “speculative rezonings” like this have been done, though he always feels uncomfortable with it. He feels more uncomfortable about approving this one without knowing what would go in, stating that it “could be a bar, could be an axe-throwing establishment for all we know.”

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