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Council Quickies: Plaza Midwood Social District Approved

Oct. 23, 2023

People perusing outside of Common Market in Plaza Midwood
The Plaza Midwood Social District is ready to launch after Monday’s Charlotte City Council vote. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Charlotte City Council met on Monday for a business meeting that included a vote on the Plaza Midwood Social District, the first such district in Charlotte. 

On the Agenda:

  • Arts & Culture Plan
  • Public Forum
  • Plaza Midwood Social District
  • Other Business Items

Arts & Culture Plan

Priya Sircar presented the newly formed Arts & Culture Plan to council, which will vote on whether to approve the plan in November. 

One slide of the presentation offered a quick overview of the plan’s eight priorities, which revolve mainly around ensuring sustainable funding for Charlotte’s creative community. 

Learn more: Nooze Hounds: Charlotte Arts and Culture Officer Priya Sircar

Among other things, the plan proposes a joint, public-private governance structure that will aim to “ensure and coordinate ongoing delivery of equitable, accessible, and inclusive funding and services to/for the arts and culture sector.” 

The governance structure includes eight advisory members that will include senior staff from arts organizations and other partners, potentially including the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, CMS, the city, the county and Foundation for the Carolinas. 

Ed Driggs said he was bothered by all the talk of inclusivity within the plan with almost no reference to the big institutions that partner with the city. “It should be a cultural plan first and a social plan second.”

Public Forum

The first speaker in Monday night’s public forum was a real estate agent and landlord who said the city is not enforcing zoning laws or other ordinances related to property upkeep and blight, which makes it hard for her to find tenants in certain neighborhoods due to the condition of surrounding properties.

A volunteer with Animal Care & Control said five dogs were euthanized every day in September due to overcrowding at the shelter, with 152 dogs lost in total that month alone. “I’m tired. We are all tired.” She suggested that Animal Care & Control should have its own department rather than be under CMPD

Members of Charlotte Firefighters Association Local 660 and UE Local 150 called on council to pass a Workers Bill of Rights. “We are concerned about our members and fellow city employees. This Worker Bill of Rights is about job security.”

“The city of Charlotte has some great managers but it has some snakes too,” said Dominic Harris with UE 150. He said managers hold grudges based on things that happened in the field years ago and play favorites. A Workers Bill of Rights would aim to prevent such behavior.

A speaker who said he’s with West Blvd Ministry called on council to do something about the rampant gun violence in the Little Rock Apartments, which are managed by Inlivian. He says progress has been made but residents remain scared and city leaders need to continue the work.

A resident asked that council approve the proposed increase in fines for illegal parking, including in bike lanes, from $25 to $100. He said he’s been hit by cars before and had to leave the bike lane multiple times on his way to the meeting because of cars parked within it.

Plaza Midwood Social District

Before the social district vote, one speaker addressed council saying she was upset to hear that her neighborhood was chosen for the first district in Charlotte. She called alcohol a solvent and fuel, not a social tool for having fun, but a tool of addiction.

LaWana Slack-Mayfield said she didn’t even know why council was voting on a social district when the city has not yet addressed other issues around public drinking and drunkenness in places like Fourth Ward.

Tariq Bokhari acknowledged that there are other issues around code enforcement in terms of public drinking and the like in Uptown, but that this is an organized effort from the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association that should not be confused with those other issues.

District 1 rep Dante Anderson warned her fellow council members against operating from a place of fear, emphasizing that there have been many social districts already opened throughout the state that haven’t had issues with public drunkenness or other safety problems.

Braxton Winston pointed out that what is illegal elsewhere is still illegal in a social district in terms of public drunkenness. He raised the point of “two Charlottes” and how things are enforced differently for different groups of people as a warning for council to remain aware of moving forward. 

Mayfield said she wanted to make it clear that her concerns don’t come from a place of fear, and that she’s happy the business community is behind it, but she says she’s concerned for the residents in the neighborhood and potential unintended consequences they might have to deal with. 

She added that the 10 a.m.-10 p.m. parameters planned for the Plaza Midwood Social District is a longer time period than most of the ones she’s visited elsewhere.

Council approved the social district, with Mayfield and Renee Johnson casting the only No votes. The Plaza Midwood Social District will be the first such district in Charlotte.

Other Business Items

Council approved a $1,100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service that will fund one new program, Canopy Care ($600,000), as well as supplement an existing program, Tree Maintenance ($500,000). 

Both grants will focus on neighborhoods within Charlotte’s Corridors of Opportunity areas.

The Canopy Care program will plant new trees, prune existing trees, and remove hazardous trees to enhance the overall health of tree canopy on private property, while the he Tree Maintenance Program will prioritize underserved communities for public tree maintenance work including pruning young and mature trees, removing hazardous trees, and stump grinding to prepare sites for replacement trees.

Council unanimously approved the Albemarle Road Pedestrian Safety and Connectivity Project, which will include installing Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons at multiple locations, filling in sidewalk gaps, and building two CATS mobility hubs.

Council is not scheduled to meet again until Monday, Nov. 13. 

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