Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Public Forum Cut Short Due to Disruptions

Monday, Dec. 11, 2023

Patrick Cannon, city workers
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles cut short a public forum on Monday following disruptions from crowd members. (Photo courtesy of City of Charlotte)

Charlotte City Council met for an action review and business meeting on Monday night, one that was cut short when Mayor Vi Lyles canceled the public forum due to disruptions from audience members.  

On the Agenda

  • Eastland Yards Update
  • Public Forum
  • Sugar Creek Corridors of Opportunity Funding

Action Review: Eastland Yards Update

The action review portion of the meeting consists of presentations from the city manager’s office on topics that do not require a vote but may come in front of council for a decision in the near future. 

Monday’s action review included an update on the Eastland Yards project. 

In October, council ordered the two development groups competing for the final 22-acre lot on the lot to collaborate on a new project called The Complex (a working title) that will include indoor & outdoor sports, arts and entertainment uses, restaurants and retail. 

Council allocated $30 million in public funding for the project. 

City staff informed council on Monday that that developers could need between $5 to $15 million more than what was allocated by the city in October for the construction of The Complex at Eastland Yards.

 Mayor Vi Lyles said she was “a little surprised” by that potential request.

Dimple Ajmera agreed, voicing her frustration that the cost could increase so much in just two months. “I don’t know if we were given accurate information when the due diligence was done,” she said. 

Ed Driggs said it was a “bold move” to reserve $30 million of city funding for the project in the first place and voiced his disappointment with the fact that council was being blindsided by the news that it may go up as much as 50% without so much as a heads up before the meeting. 

“If you were looking for a nod from this group to proceed along these lines I can tell you pretty surely that you don’t have one,” Driggs said.


Public Forum

Before heading downstairs to the chambers after the action review portion of the meeting, Mayor Lyles stated that the room was packed full and that the maximum number of speakers (15) had signed up to speak. 

She announced that if any council member felt unsafe at any time during the public forum that the entire council would stand and exit the chambers together.

A couple speakers spoke in support of Friends of Feral Felines, stating that now in the organization’s 25th year, Charlotte is in the worst cat crisis they’ve seen. They are in need of funding for their spay/neuter clinic.

The first speaker to address the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on Monday was a Palestinian American man who said that the two minutes he was given to address council would give him just eight seconds for each family member of his who’s been killed in the last two months.

Mayor Lyles called for a recess after two pro-Palestinian speakers addressed council and the crowd began to cheer in support while one speaker continued to name his dead relatives and their occupations. 

Council left the chambers, though Lyles would return to address the audience off-mic without the rest of council.

Resuming the public forum, Sue Worrel of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte claimed that the public forum had platformed hate speech by pro-Palestinian speakers during Monday’s event and the one held two weeks ago in the same chambers.

Lyles then called on one woman to be removed after she repeatedly disrupted the meeting. She refused, to which Lyles responded by recessing the meeting again and clearing the chambers.

Police attempted to escort the woman out but she refused to leave. One fellow Palestine supporter asked that the woman comply and leave the chambers so the pro-Palestinian speakers who had signed up could say their piece, but the public forum would not continue after all. 

Council moved upstairs out of the chambers and cut the public forum short. 


Sugar Creek Corridors of Opportunity Funding

In their first action after resuming the agenda, council unanimously approved accepting $2,425,000 from the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and $12 million from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to be put toward Sugar Creek Corridors of Opportunity projects.

The NCDOT funding will be put toward installing a pedestrian hybrid beacon at the intersection of Sugar Creek Road and Sofley Road as well as completing sidewalk gaps along Sugar Creek Road.

The FHA funding will go toward building a shared-use path on Sugar Creek Road and a sidewalk to connect the Sugar Creek Park Community Center, pedestrian improvements at the intersection of North Tryon Street and Sugar Creek Road, and three CATS mobility hubs.

Council went into closed session to watch the body-cam footage from the violent Nov. 13 arrest of Christina Pierre and her fiancé Tony Lee outside of a Bojangles where they both work in southwest Charlotte. It will be released publicly tomorrow.

Council is scheduled to meet again for a zoning meeting on Monday, Dec. 18.


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