Council QuickiesNews & Opinion

Council Quickies: Proposed Changes to the Unified Development Ordinance

March 25, 2024

Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan
Charlotte City Council heard a presentation on proposed changes to the Unified Development Ordinance on Monday that could affect what gets built and where. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

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

The action review portion of the meeting centered around proposed changes to the Unified Development Ordinance, while in the business portion of the meeting the council approved a long-awaited project on the Sugar Creek corridor.

On the Agenda:

  • Proposed UDO Changes
  • Public Forum
  • Prosperity Hidden Valley and Other Business Items

Proposed Unified Development Ordinance Changes

During her presentation about proposed changes to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Planning Director Alyson Craig said that, in the nine months since the UDO went into effect, the city has seen limited plans to build duplexes and triplexes while apartment and townhome construction has continued to boom. 

Craig said the city has approved construction of 140 duplexes and about 20 triplexes in that time.

A look at trends in development types and new home construction costs showed that, in 2023, the city issued permits for the construction of 12,580 apartments; 2,957 townhomes; 2,102 single-family homes; and 100 du-, tri- and quadplex units. Last year saw a lower number of new home construction closings than the city has seen in a decade (below).

The Planning Department is proposing changes to the Unified Development Ordinance’s definition of a Conservation Development, which allows for clustered housing with small lot sizes to maximize preservation of natural resources and/or usable open space. The changes aim to close loopholes that developers have been taking advantage of by creating open space that is not actually of use to anyone. 

Staff is also proposing limiting the areas where triplexes are allowed to corner lots only while expanding the possibilities for townhome developments, which are seeing a surge in demand.

Another proposed change would create a new Compact Development option for new residential subdivisions with smaller lot sizes near activity centers and high-frequency transit areas.

The conservation text amendment is expected to come in front of council for a vote on May 20, while the Compact Development and triplex/townhome changes wouldn’t be voted on until July.

Public Forum

Rev. James Barnett of the Stop the Killing Crusade plugged a Unity in the Community anti-violence event scheduled for April 21 though he did not state where the event will be held.

Ann Gross, founder and president of nonprofit Friends of Feral Felines, said her organization has treated 292 cats since January this year through its Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) program. “These cats are proliferating,” she said before requesting line item funding for TNR programming in the city budget

Kelsey Joseph, a volunteer at the CMPD Animal Care & Control shelter, said the daily need to euthanize dogs at the overwhelmed shelter takes an emotional toll. There are solutions, she said, but the ACC is critically underfunded. She asked that the agency be made a separate department with separate funding in the budget.

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

The next speaker urged council to prioritize funding for transitional housing for women ages 18-25, saying there’s a dire need in the community.

A local Palestinian American doctor said he still has family in the West Bank and his nephew was shot and killed by the IDF last week.

“It baffles me how this country, my country, continues to send billions of dollars every year to kill and displace my family yet my patients in America cannot afford cancer treatments. Here in Charlotte, I see it day by day,” the man said. He asked council to pass a ceasefire resolution.

“As a constituent and a Jew, I come to you with a heavy heart asking you to pass a resolution demanding a ceasefire,” said the next speaker, adding that the purposeful starving of Gaza’s population along with other war crimes carried out by Israel amounts to a genocide.

A Palestinian American resident of Mecklenburg County said, “We no longer need to read you the statistics of this brutal genocide for you to know that it is a genocide. We all see what is happening and your willful ignorance is not an excuse.”

Preston Hagman with the Airport Community Roundtable said his group has been working for two years to abate the noise coming from planes coming in and out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its impact on nearby communities. The group’s final report will be delayed but should be ready this summer. 

Following a speech from a local high school student urging council to support a ceasefire, the public forum ended.

Business Items

While hearings to close alleyways are common and rarely draw any speakers, on Monday night multiple speakers representing businesses in Dilworth’s Twin Oaks shopping center and surrounding residents spoke against plans to close alley between Scott Avenue and Fountain View Street, 

While business owners said the alley serves as a critical artery for inventory deliveries, residents of single-family homes on Fountain View Street and residents of the condominiums above the shopping center also urged council not to close the alleyway. 

The closing of the alleyway is part of the plans for a $90-million, 300,000-square-foot mixed-use development planned for 1401 East Boulevard, currently home to Starbucks, that will include 300 residential multi-family units, 20,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of retail space.

A rep for the petitioner, SunCap Property Group, said they plan to do away with the existing 10-foot-wide alley and replace it with a 24-foot-wide public easement. “We want this shopping center to remain viable, we think it’s a great amenity.” He said he would prefer council not take action on Monday night but continue to look into it.

Council voted to pick the issue back up in the last business meeting in April.

Council voted to annex a 12.739-acre property located north of Interstate 485 along the east side of Mount Holly-Huntersville Road, now part of Renee Johnson’s District 4. The annexation will enable the development of 32 single-family homes.

Before council voted on whether to sell 4.32 acres of city-owned property at 5342 and 5350 Reagan Drive (formerly Economy Inn) to Prosperity Hidden Valley, LLC for $1 for the development of affordable housing, Dante Anderson said that all residents who were living in the motel have been rehoused, some in permanent housing that is a better situation for them.

A rundown, two-story motel located on the Sugar Creek corridor.
This property on the Sugar Creek corridor will soon be home to a new affordable housing development after Charlotte City Council approved a deal to sell the land at Monday night’s meeting. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Prosperity Hidden Valley is a partnership of True Homes, LLC and Prosperity Alliance, LLC. According to the agenda, both are experienced affordable housing developers that offer a community, mission-oriented approach with focus on affordable homeownership especially for households impacted by racial disparities in homeownership.

The proposed development will include a minimum of 39 new construction for-sale residential townhome units affordable to families earning at or below 80% AMI for at least 20 years. Units may not be leased during that time.

Council voted to approve revisions to its agreement with Hornets ownership regarding a new practice facility and Spectrum Center renovations. The city’s spend will remain around $275 million, where it was when discussions began two years ago, now with more investment from the team’s new owners.

The Hornets’ new ownership group has proposed changes to the practice facility, which the city is referring to as a performance enhancement facility (PEC). While the city’s investment will stay at $275 million, with the Hornets increasing their own investment to between $75-100 million. 

The Hornets want to build the facility in the gravel lot next to the arena, not the Charlotte Transportation Center as originally proposed in 2022. 

The city will move half of its $60-million investment in the PEC to go toward Spectrum Center renovations. The city will not own the PEC upon its completion, according to the new plan. The Hornets will own it.

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