Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: A Home for All Plan Sees Pushback

April 22, 2024

A historic church on Parkwood Avenue
The Parkwood Avenue Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was designated a historic landmark at Monday’s meeting. (Photo courtesy of SVM Historical Consulting)

Charlotte City Council met for an action review, public forum and business meeting on Monday night. 

Monday night’s discussions included continued issues around a proposed landfill in a residential area of northwest Charlotte that neighbors thought had been solved last year and some consternation from council members who feel they are being left out of the city’s Home for All initiative.  

On the Agenda:

  • Public Forum
  • Business Items
  • A Home for All

Public Forum

Kicking off the public forum, Jesús De La Torre, a mobility safety advocate with runCLTrun who reported that there had been four harassment and assault incidents reported on local greenways since last time he addressed council. He pointed out that Mount Holly recently equipped greenways with cameras.

Patrick Madsen, a volunteer with Animal Care & Control (AC&C), asked council to create a new department for the organization so that it doesn’t have to operate under the umbrella of CMPD. He pointed out that North Carolina ranks second in the country for the number of animals euthanized in shelters.

Read more: CMPD Animal Care & Control Opens Satellite Shelter Amidst Crisis

Two more animal advocates also spoke in support of AC&C. One said the regular image of animal carcasses in wheelbarrows awaiting the incinerator is stuck in her mind forever. She said that, as the city has grown, animal services have been left by the wayside.

A woman walks a dog down a hallway full of kennels
Technicians and kennel attendants like Lindsey Kaschino care for animals around the clock at CMPD Animal Care & Control’s temporary overflow facility. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

A large group of neighbors were in attendance to voice their opposition to a landfill in Oakdale that was denied by council last year. One resident said the property owners have been moving forward with the plan through a secretive backdoor appeals process.

Residents claimed the property owners received a variance with the help of city attorney Patrick Baker that will allow them to open the landfill despite the wishes of council and the Board of Adjustments, which originally denied the permit.

Residents said work on the site has continued, including loud explosions early in the morning, despite their belief that the issue was solved last year. “It feels like we aren’t being heard.”

Following the public forum, Baker said a notice of appeal had been filed and will go to court. Baker’s office represents the city in defense of the Board of Adjustment’s decision, claiming that a judge overstepped his bounds by reversing the board’s decision and allowing the landfill to move forward.

LaWana Mayfield asked if Baker’s office could issue a cease and desist on movement at the site while the litigation plays out. Baker said he will look into it, as the variance is not in effect while the city appeals said variance, so there should be no movement now.

Also during the public forum, a rep with the Charlotte Metro Democratic Socialists of America said the group will be riding on CATS buses along Beatties Ford Road beginning at the Rosa Parks Place Community Transit Center on May 4 to collect data in their ongoing effort to lobby for better safety measures on city buses, inviting elected officials to join. 

Business items

Council discussed an agenda item that would increase the contract the city has with Whiting Construction Co., Inc. to install and maintain traffic signals. The contract would more than double from $2.4 million to $5.6 million. Some council members said they would like to see a new RFP.

The issue arose due to an increase in the number of traffic signals that will be installed as part of Vision Zero and other approved projects. A CDOT rep said a new RFP process would delay some projects by 3-6 months, raising a concern about impact on safety.

Council members wanted to see a new RFP process in the hopes that a minority and/or women-owned business enterprise could share in the new scope. The Whiting contract change was approved in a 6-4 vote, while the broader issue around how contract increases are carried out will be referred to committee for further discussion.

Council unanimously voted to designate the Parkwood Avenue Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, opened in January 1929 as Villa Heights Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and still the most “architecturally significant church building” in Villa Heights, as a historic landmark.

Charlotte grew bigger during Monday’s meeting, as council voted to annex a 37.8-acre property located along Kelly Road, north of Pleasant Grove Road in northwestern Mecklenburg County, to facilitate the development of 203 single-family homes and preserve the existing house on the site.

Council approved changes to the Strategic Energy Action Plan that will require all new city facilities to be fully electric except for back-up generation, plus strengthen and expand on-site solar renewable energy at existing facilities, among other changes.

Council approved up to $5.3 million in Housing Trust Fund allocations for four affordable housing developments: Mallard at Sugar Creek (District 2), Grounds for Change (D1), Legacy Vista (D3), and Little’s Landing (D4).

A Home for All

Shawn heath presented a look at $12.3 million in investment opportunities that the city is exploring to address homelessness and housing insecurity for Fiscal Year 2025 as part of its A Home For All initiative in partnership with United Way of Greater Charlotte.

Suggested funding opportunities for A Home for All.

Renee Johnson feared that council — and specifically the Housing, Safety, Community committee — had been undermined through this process and that United Way was given too large a role. 

Johnson said public-private partnerships work well in certain situations but the city needs all organizations such as Crisis Assistance Ministry onboard for this effort, all playing to their strengths rather than getting collapsed under the United Way umbrella.

Dimple Ajmera agreed with Johnson in that “sometimes it feels like we are working against a machine and the outcome is already determined” with no consultation from the Housing, Safety, Community Committee.

“I’m not saying we need to start from scratch but there are many discussions that still need to be had … because I am not aligned in any way to transferring council authority over to United Way … that conversation still doesn’t feel like it’s been clear,” said Victoria Watlington. 

The issue will be discussed more in depth at the upcoming Housing, Safety, Community Committee meeting scheduled for May 6, which we’ll update during committee report-outs that night.

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