Council QuickiesLocal GovernmentNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Orphan Roads and Syndication Rentals

May 28, 2024

Grand Palisades Parkway in southwest Charlotte was at the heart of a debate about orphan roads during Monday night's Charlotte City Council meeting
Grand Palisades Parkway in southwest Charlotte was at the heart of a debate about orphan roads during Monday night’s Charlotte City Council meeting. (Via Google Maps)

Charlotte City Council met for a public forum and business meeting on Monday night.

The agenda for Monday night’s meeting was a short one, though plenty of speakers showed up to address council and the discussion around approving a revised Interlocal Agreement for the Metrolina Transit Commission did go in some interesting directions, so we’re going to focus on those two items. 

  • Public Forum
  • Metropolitan Transit Commission Interlocal Agreement

Public Forum

The night’s first public forum speaker, Jennifer Diesa, asked that the city remove Animal Care & Control (AC&C) from under the CMPD umbrella, where it does not get proper funding. She also asked that a new shelter be built for AC&C.

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

A group of resident spoke in succession as residents of the Old Heritage neighborhood in south Charlotte, complaining that a neighbor on Cliffside Drive has been renting out each of the eight bedrooms in their home separately, effectively turning it into a motel. 

Mayor V Lyles said the city attorney and city staff are aware of the issue and are currently investigating what’s going on at the address. 

The home in question is blurred out on Google Street View. One of the concerned neighbors was able to find it listed online and rented a room out, finding that all eight rooms in the house were being rented separately. Neighbors at Monday’s meeting reported odd behavior by renters at all hours.

The home on Cliffside Drive where owners are renting each room out separately has been blurred out on Google Street View.

One neighbor said the house is the result of a real estate syndication operation in which multiple investors pool their money to buy a home and rent out multiple rooms inside. Similar operations are popping up throughout the country and the speaker said he has confirmed examples like the one in Old Heritage in districts 2, 4, 6 and 7 in Charlotte. “The situation is not business as usual.” 

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.

Ed Driggs said code enforcement is aware of the issue and has issued citations but “the truth is we don’t have an ordinance that completely excludes this and we need to work on that.”

Ricky Singh, executive director of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), a mentorship organization for boys and young men of color, asked council to include funding for MBK in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2025 budget to help the organization fund new programming including internships.

A photo of Ricky Singh
Artist, educator and mentor Ricky Singh. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Well-known local developer Afshin Ghazi addressed council about some members’ desire to backtrack on the UDO’s policy allowing more duplexes and triplexes. He said his 24-year-old daughter cannot find an affordable home. “Without density, you’re not going to get affordability.”

Speaking on behalf of his fellow city workers, Robert Davis with Charlotte Water asked council to reconsider last week’s refusal to increase the minimum wage for Charlotte’s hourly workers to $25. “Think about the workers who are here every day tirelessly making the city great.”

Fellow Charlotte Water employee and Charlotte UE150 president Dominic Harris echoed Davis’ sentiment, “We want to be the vision of what this city is. It’s not just the buildings. It’s not just the streets. It’s the people that make this city.”

MTC Interlocal Agreement

Council on Monday was scheduled to vote on revisions to the Interlocal Agreement that governs the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The agreement would be the first step in forming coordinated transit operations on a county-wide basis through the Charlotte Area Transit System, mostly through bus and rail service. 

Leaders within the MTC, which comprises representatives from the county and each of the seven municipalities within it, put out a press release before Monday’s meeting stating that the body would not support revisions to the agreement unless the city of Charlotte entered into a revenue sharing agreement that appropriates a portion of any new sales tax for the repair of “orphan roads” located in the county’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

City manager Marcus Jones said the Interlocal Agreement “deals with transit — deals with buses and rail — so a provision dealing with orphan roads doesn’t have a place, in my professional opinion, in this agreement.”

Jones proposed a memorandum of understanding with the county and surrounding towns that would promise a portion of any new sales tax to go toward “orphan roads,” which are usually roads that were once private streets owned by developers or HOA boards but are now kept up by no specific body.

LaWana Mayfield took issue with the MTC’s use of the term “orphan roads,” pointing out that the one specifically named in the MTC’s release, Grand Palisades Parkway, is a private road owned by development company Lennar, which she said just doesn’t want to maintain it anymore. She asked why the city should bear that burden.

A Charlotte DOT rep explained that many of these “orphan roads” were meant to be built to NCDOT standards, so they could operate under state maintenance when finished, but sometimes just don’t get there due to construction delays, etc., and many times only need to be paved. 

It was reported during the meeting that the members of the MTC who had voiced opposition to the revised Interlocal Agreement earlier in the day had rescinded said opposition in response to Jones’ proposal of an MOU regarding funding to maintain orphan roads.

Council voted to approve the revised Interlocal Agreement, with Malcolm Graham casting the only No vote. Graham had made a substitute motion to remove the revision that would create a new annual discretionary fund of $500,000 that the MTC could use to fund studies or commission reports related to the CATS. He was the only one to vote for that motion. 

Mayor Lyles said she was disappointed that some members of the MTC put out Monday’s release ostensibly voicing the full commission’s opposition to the agreement instead of calling her, the city’s rep on the MTC.

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