Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Neighbors Speak Against Piper Glen Development

March 18, 2024

A man speaking against the proposed Piper Glen development holds up a large binder with two eagles on the cover
A resident speaks against a proposed development in Piper Glen during Monday night’s meeting.

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.

Much of the discussion centered around two large proposed developments in south Charlotte that would each bring hundreds of new units to Piper Glen and Ardrey Kell Road.

On the Agenda: 

  • Zoning Decisions
  • Elm Lane Hearing
  • Ardrey Kell Hearing

Zoning decisions

Council voted on a petition for proposed mixed-use development at Kenilworth Avenue and Pearl Park Way in Midtown. Since the February hearing, which saw some opposition from former residents of the Brooklyn neighborhood, developers have added 10 affordable housing units and brought the total number of units down from 450 to 425.

Five of the affordable units, reserved for families making 60% or less of the area median income, will be in the adjacent Solis Midtown apartment complex, with the other five (80% AMI or less) either in the new development or also in Solis. Council approves the rezoning unanimously.

Council also unanimously approved a rezoning to pave the way for a 141-unit development on more than 14 acres off Ridge Road near the I-85/I-485 interchange.

rezoning petition for the development of 100 units on 3 acres off Arrowood Road west of I-77 promises to reserve 70% of units for households earning up to 80% of AMI for a period of no less than 20 years. Council approves unanimously.

Elm Lane hearing

Two busloads of neighbors rode together to Monday night’s meeting to voice their opposition to a large-scale development between Rea Road and Elm Lane in the Piper Glen area. Some folks are fighting the potential impacts of the large development while others want to preserve the forested area, which is home to a well-known family of eagles.

The mixed-use development would include up to 640 units spread amongst a variety of housing types. Staff did not recommend approval of the petition as it was presented on Monday night, suggesting that developers bring the total number of units down below 500.

A graphic showed seven multi-family buildings located at the northern tip of the site, not to exceed 65 feet in height, as well as 34 single-family townhome buildings to the south.

A rendering of the proposed Piper Glen development.

The first opposing speaker, a neighbor of the proposed development, said he is not anti-growth but only supports planned growth. He said the traffic impact would be too much for the area, as the local roads are already congested at rush hour, as is the local Trader Joe’s at peak times.

One neighbor brought a large notebook that he said contained 20,000 signatures of residents opposed to the Piper Glen development.

The neighbors also raised concerns about flooding, adding to the existing issues already seen surrounding the floodplain where parts of this development would be located.

A rep for the developer claimed the eagles live outside of the protected zone, about 900 feet from the project site, adding that they have been told by the wildlife commission that the eagles would not be impacted by the development.

District rep Ed Driggs said the proposal is a work in progress and he does not approve of the petition as it currently stands. “If you remain united against it, I will not vote for it,” Driggs said to neighbors in attendance.

However, Driggs warned that developers could build a large development on the property by right with the zoning in place now. The city couldn’t stop that from happening. He said the forested habitat as it exists now will likely not remain for long regardless of what happens with this petition, which he said won’t come back in front of council until May at the earliest.

“We spent two years debating and putting together a UDO that essentially pours rocket fuel on growth and just two days on the infrastructure to support that growth,” said Tariq Bokhari.

Renee Johnson thanked those in attendance for being “the face of a coalition” that is opposing growth without infrastructure, saying that she has continuously spoken against such developments to the point where she got a reputation for being anti-development.

“We need this uprising” against by-right development without infrastructure so that changes can be made, Johnson added.

Ardrey Kell hearing

Next council heard about another large-scale development being proposed in south Charlotte, this one on 124+ acres bordered by Tom Short Road, Red Rust Lane and Ardrey Kell Road, that would allow for a mix of residential housing types and a CMS school on parcels that are largely vacant.

Speaking against the development, one neighbor shared a graphic of all the proposed developments in the area with the added traffic trips each one is expected to bring.

A slide showing the traffic impact of proposed developments in the 28277 zip code.

The development would include up to 682 multifamily units, 211 townhomes and 24 single-family homes. Dimple Ajmera said she likes a lot about the proposal but has an issue with the density so she won’t support it as is.

Ajmera brought the slide back up with the traffic impacts and said it’s truly concerning to see all these plans drawn up for what are basically “farm roads.” Renee Johnson also brought it back up when she spoke. “Believe it or not as a council we don’t get these illustrations.”

“When we look at zoning petitions we look at the single zoning petitions but it’s important that we see this cumulative effects,” Johnson added.

A site plan rendering for the Ardrey Kell development.
A site plan for the Ardrey Kell development.

Marjorie Molina presented a binder that a resident put together and gave to all council members to present the reasons she and others in the area oppose the proposed development on Ardrey Kell Road, saying it’s the most comprehensive presentation she has seen since joining council.

Molina said the implementation of the UDO will lead to more instances of policy clashing with community because the previous council gave developers too much freedom through by-right zoning when they passed the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) in 2022.

Victoria Watlington agreed. “Most of us sitting around this dais are amenable to making adjustments” to the UDO, she said.

Watlington said four of six council members who passed the UDO are no longer on council “to deal with the aftermath … We have heard enough things in the last 8 months to put it in committee,” she said, asking that council start to consider asking city staff to change aspects of the UDO that allow for by-right development.

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