Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Echo Hills and Mallard Creek Rezonings Shelved

Zoning meeting; July 17, 2023

The new Charlotte City Council stands behind the dais.
Charlotte City Council held a zoning meeting on Monday, discussing petitions in Echo Hills, Mallard Creek and Enderly Park. From left: New rep Marjorie Molina, incumbent Renee Johnson, incumbent Dimple Ajmera, returning rep James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell, incumbent Braxton Winston, returning rep LaWana Mayfield, Mayor Vi Lyles, new rep Dante Anderson, incumbent Malcolm Graham, incumbent Tariq Bokhari, incumbent Victoria Watlington, and incumbent Ed Driggs. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Charlotte City Council met on Monday for a zoning meeting, with only two decisions coming in front of council, including a new bakery/restaurant from Mama’s Caribbean owner Vinroy Reid off Monroe Road in Echo Hills that saw significant opposition from neighbors in May

On the Agenda:

  • Echo Hills Rezoning Decision
  • Mallard Creek Withdrawal
  • Other Rezoning Decisions & Hearings

Echo Hills Rezoning Decision

Discussing Reid’s petition off Monroe Road, he has confirmed that all live music and entertainment will take place solely on an outdoor patio without expanding to a standalone stage or in the parking lot during special events as some neighbors had been concerned about.

The zoning committee voted 5-1 to recommend approval but, as mentioned above, neighbors have opposed. Multiple council members discussed receiving an email from one neighbor before the meeting on Monday who District 5 rep Marjorie Molina was “crying out” for council to stop the development.  

Reid wants to turn his home on the Char-Meck Avenue property into a bakery/restaurant. Molina said she wouldn’t vote to approve the rezoning on Monday as she needed more time to ensure neighbors were being heard. 

A motion was made to defer the petition due to neighbors’ concerns about music. Braxton Winston said he didn’t see why council would defer. Reid has already agreed to time limits as to when music can be played. Amplified music is allowed at the site before and after the petition, though under its current zoning it would be more tightly restricted. 

Molina called back to the May meeting, when a neighbor stated that he could feel the music in his chest when Reid had thrown parties at the property in the past. She added that some neighbors have felt bullied. The petition was deferred, with Winston and LaWana Mayfield casting the only No votes against deferral. 

Mallard Creek Withdrawal

Another rezoning that saw significant opposition during May’s rezoning meeting, a petition on Mallard Creek Road at Galloway Road that proposed a residential community of 186 for-sale townhomes, was on Monday night’s agenda but the developer had requested that the petition be withdrawn from consideration completely. 

Renee Johnson moved to deny the withdrawal of the petition for the Mallard Creek/Galloway Road development. Her goal was to allow the petition to stand for a vote so council could deny it outright, meaning the petitioner could not bring it back in front of council for two years unless significant changes were made.

Johnson said the response from staff to her questions about denying a withdrawal request have been “like I asked to change the colors of the state flag.” 

Tariq Bokhari insisted that at no point in Charlotte’s “modern history” to his knowledge had council denied a developer’s request to withdraw their own petition. Rezoning Program Manager Dave Pettine and fellow council member Ed Driggs agreed with Bokhari.

Johnson disagreed, stating that longtime council member James “Smuggie” Mitchell, who was absent on Monday, had told her there was precedent for such a move.  

Winston called on his colleagues not to support Johnson’s move, stating that the developer heard feedback from neighbors and city staff and made the tough decision to say, “We’re not going to do this. We’re going to fix it.” He said that Johnson’s request would go against the ideal approach to finding common ground with developers.

Johnson said the pushback against denying this withdrawal has been “unbelievable.” 

“The public accuses us of rubber-stamping and this is the response when we try to deny a petition,” said Johnson. 

Council voted first on whether to accept the withdrawal, tying 5-5, leading to a tiebreaker from Mayor Vi Lyles, who voted against that motion. In the following vote she voted with Johnson, denying the petition outright and killing the proposed project for the foreseeable future. 

Other Rezoning Decisions & Hearings

In their only other decision of the night, council approved a rezoning that will clear the way to redevelop 66 of the existing 266 units at the Legacy Arboretum Apartments off Pineville-Matthews Road on the western portion of the site with 278 new units, making a total of 478.

The first hearing of the night involved a proposal to build 649 residential units of varying types on 150.78 acres on the north side of Old Concord Road east of North Tryon Street.

Three residents voiced their concerns with the development, which include overcrowding at nearby schools, clearing of wildlife habitat, and traffic impacts, among other things.

Zoning committee did not recommend approval of another rezoning up for a hearing on Monday night, in which developers want to build a parking lot for their existing commercial use that was rezoned in 2020 and will open within the month.

Zoning Committee did not recommend approval for multiple reasons, including plans to demolish a duplex constructed in 1926 and identified as historically significant by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

The existing commercial use is Marquee, a new nightclub set to open soon in Enderly Park

Council will not meet again until committee discussions are held on Monday, Aug. 7.

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