Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Elizabeth Project Shelved, Panthers Practice Facility Proposed

May 20, 2024

The Panthers are proposing an expansion and redevelopment of their practice facility on South Cedar Street.
The Panthers are proposing an expansion and redevelopment of their practice facility on South Cedar Street.

Charlotte City Council met for its monthly zoning meeting on Monday night.

These meetings start with decisions, 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.

Below, we report on some of the notable decisions, discussions and hearings that took place during the meeting, including a vote on an apartment complex on East 7th Street in Elizabeth and a presentation on the proposed expansion and redevelopment of the Panthers practice facility on South Cedar Street.


Decisions

Council discussed changes to the conservation residential development standards in the Unified Development Ordinance, including increasing the quantity and quality of required open space in developments, increasing transitions to adjacent parcels, and revising frontage requirements.

The changes were proposed in part in response to developers taking advantage of a loophole in open space requirements, combining different spaces throughout a development to meet the minimum rather than creating a single open space that better serves the community.

Tariq Bokhari said he supports closing that loophole but moved to defer the more broad changes proposed Monday night because there are complexities that will lead to gridlock for developers. The zoning committee had also voted to defer.

Council approved those changes rather than defer the proposal.

The zoning committee voted 2-5 to deny a proposed gas station and drive-thru fast food restaurant on Moores Chapel Road at I-485, citing environmental impacts and the auto-centricity of the plan. Council approved the petition, with LaWana Mayfield and Victoria Watlington voted No.

Council next took up a proposed apartment complex on East 7th Street in Elizabeth. Despite 6-1 approval by zoning committee, city staff did not recommend approval because, at 78 feet, it exceeds the 65-foot maximum height of the Neighborhood Center Place Type

Dimple Ajmera said she would not support the petition due to the concerns about its height. Dante Anderson said nearby residents were also concerned about parking. The new plan increases the parking ratio to 1.2 spots per unit.

A rendering of the proposed development on East 7th Street.

Anderson said the Elizabeth Community Association supports the petition, though many neighbors don’t. She insisted that what’s allowed by right on the property could be much worse than what’s proposed. She said she would support and continue to work with developers on parking solutions.

Marjorie Molina said she was struggling with the decision because staff so often recommends approvals so to see them hold the line in recommending denial made it hard for her to support the petition.

Molina asked if the petitioner has shown interest in lowering the building. Rezoning planner Dave Pettine said staff has been asking for a height reduction since August 2023 with no interest shown. Molina said she would not support the petition due to that disregard for staff’s recommendations.

More renderings of the East 7th Street project.

Pettine said the original petition asked for a max height of 120 feet and early on they brought it down to 78 but have not shown any interest in getting it down to the 65 that staff would like to see.

Pettine confirmed that, due to an 8-foot slope on the property and the design of the development, the part of the building closest to residences would not be 78 feet.

The motion to approve the petition failed in a 7-4 vote. The four Yes votes came from Dante Anderson, Tiawana Brown, Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs. James “Smuggie” Mitchell moved to fully deny the petition. Anderson made a substitute motion to defer rather than deny so work can continue.

The deferral passed. Anderson said she will continue to work with the developers and community members to get to a place where they are comfortable bringing it back to council at a later date.

Discussing the proposed redevelopment of Wilmore School, which will include adaptive reuse of the existing building, LaWana Mayfield said she appreciates the preservation of a building with such importance to the Wilmore community, which has seen displacement and gentrification.

She emphasized the importance of keeping the Wilmore name. “It’s not LoSo or HiSo or whatever new name they’ll come up with, it’s Wilmore.” 

Council approved the Wilmore School preservation and redevelopment petition, which includes up to 250 multi-family and/or single-family attached residential units; 3,500 square feet of retail; and 4,300 square feet of office uses. The vote was unanimous.

Council approved a petition to develop a vacant, wooded property on South Tryon Street north of Southhampton Road with a community of up to 50 multi-family attached dwellings. LaWana Mayfield casted the only No vote, citing traffic concerns.


Hearings

Council heard a presentation on a petition that would allow for construction of a Bank OZK branch across from the Arrowood light rail stop on South Boulevard. Current zoning allows for a bank but OZK wants to build a drive-thru. The staff did not recommend approval due to the drive-thru. 

An attorney representing OZK (formerly Bank of the Ozarks) cited safety concerns of bank clients who do not want to leave their car when depositing large amounts of cash as justification for drive-thru.

Staff recommendation: “The proposed project is auto-centric in nature and would actively detract from [the city’s] transit investment by orienting the building away from the street, requiring pedestrians to cross parking lot or drive-thru lane to access the building and prioritizing vehicular trips.”

The proposed University City Townes development.

Developers are proposing a 71-townhome for-sale development next to I-485 near the Berkshire/Coventry neighborhoods in northeast Charlotte. One neighbor spoke in opposition, saying she would prefer single-family homes as were originally planned on the property. Neither staff nor district rep Renee Johnson support the petition. 

The Panthers are looking to redevelop and expand on their existing practice facilities, with renderings showing large indoor and outdoor practice areas that include a viewing porch for fans to watch the team. 

The Panthers are proposing an expansion and redevelopment of their practice facility on South Cedar Street.

One neighbor spoke in opposition, calling it an eyesore. He asked that the fieldhouse be moved elsewhere on the property (where the Bubble was located) to preserve skyline views for neighbors.

Developers are proposing a neighborhood shopping center with up to 31,500 square-feet of commercial/retail space at the corner of Mt. Holly-Huntersville and Oakdale roads near an I-485 interchange in northwest Charlotte. No speakers showed up in opposition and no discussion from council.

A proposed shopping center in northwest Charlotte.

Developers are seeking a conditional rezoning with no site plan at the corner of Eastway Drive and Commonwealth Avenue. A neighboring business owner said they were told in a community meeting that the plan is for 30 townhomes. She’s concerned with the impact on traffic/parking.

Council will meet for an action review, public forum and business meeting on Monday, May 27.


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