Planning for 400,000 new neighbors

If you’re a Charlotte resident today, you may have over 400,000 new neighbors by 2045, so what does that mean for our city?

That’s one question that will start many conversations about our city’s future.  Today, we’re a city of over 800,000 people and we’re a popular place – we add 44 people every day!  More than half of these people are coming here from other places, the rest are a result of natural increase (births – deaths = population increase) That’s like a CATS bus full of passengers arriving every day, every year for the next 30 years, or like the cities of Sacramento, CA or Kansas City, MO moving here in the same time period.

By 2045, our city will likely have over 1 million people, so it’s really important to have conversations today to plan for tomorrow.

If our population increases 58% by 2045 and we want to maintain our current population density, that means we would have to add 210 square miles of land to our city – a land area the size of Columbus, Ohio.  Since we can’t make new land, that means our city is going to become denser, growing “up” rather than “out”.  And assuming current travel patterns, this same population increase could put an additional 101,000 cars on the road – that’s the same amount of daily traffic that passes by Bank of America Stadium on I-277.

With these scenarios in mind, planning for the future allows us to consider alternative scenarios for guiding our City’s growth and development.

Density, Diversity, and Design in the Future

Talking about the future often starts with talking about the past – did you know Charlotte had a greater population density in 1950 than we do today? The City of Charlotte’s planning area grew from 30 square miles in 1950 to 376 square miles today and that’s about as big as it will ever be.  In 1950, the city was 72% white and 38% black with an average household size of 3.4 people.

In 2015, the city was 50% white, 35% black, 14% Hispanic, 6% Asian, and 2% two or more races with an average household size of 2.5 people.  In the future, Charlotte will have more people and more kinds of people with diverse needs for housing, transportation, and employment, so density and diversity will influence our city’s design.

Charlotte’s population density (left) and Charlotte’s planning area (right)

Tools for Designing Our Future

Since Charlotte’s population will be more dense and diverse in the future, what are some tools for designing our City?  Land use policies and development rules are two big factors affecting our City’s future growth and development and that’s why they’re being updated as follows:

Charlotte Place Types: Updated Land Use Policies

Place Types are a classification of land that provides guidance for how future development should look and function. They describe types and intensities of land use as well as important characteristics such as scale, site design, and accessibility.

Unified Development Ordinance (UDO): Updated Development Regulations

The UDO will be the primary tool to implement Place Types and Charlotte’s other plans and policies through development regulations. It will combine multiple development ordinances, including the Zoning Ordinance, into one set of regulations.

Help Think Our City Forward

As our City approaches the 2040s with over a million people, we’ll need to grow differently than we did in the past and Place Types and the UDO present opportunities to consider creative options for future growth.  These policies and rules will shape every aspect of our city, so join the conversation in Thinking Our City Forward.

South Charlotte learns about “software” for future growth

South Charlotte residents learned about a citywide effort to update our “software” for future growth and development, Charlotte Place Types and UDO, at a July 13 meeting at the Ballantyne Hotel.

Ed McKinney, Interim Planning Director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Dept., describes the difference between Charlotte Place Types (policies) and the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO, regulations) at The Ballantyne Hotel.

The Ballantyne Breakfast Club hosted an evening meeting to update the community about Charlotte Place Types and the creation of a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).  Interim Planning Director Ed McKinney noted that this is one effort with two parts, noting “Place Types will provide the vision that guides development of regulations in the UDO.”

Tony Lathrop (left), Chairperson of the project’s Charlotte UDO Advisory Committee,
speaks about the committee’s role in building the community’s awareness of Charlotte Place Types and the UDO.

The City of Charlotte expects to add another 400,000 people by 2040, so the time is now for having a community discussion and creating a plan to ensure our growth and development benefit all parts of the city.  Planning for growth and development in South Charlotte is a top community concern.

“Is planning like cooking?” and Other Great Questions

We introduced Charlotte Place Types/UDO to the community in late 2016 and continue the conversation each time someone Requests A Meeting.  If you’re interested in learning more about Charlotte Place Types/UDO, check out Request A Meeting under Get Involved on our home page.  Here are some recent highlights of people we’ve met and questions they’ve asked.

University Area Neighborhoods

February 15, 6 p.m.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Sugar Creek Branch
4045 N. Tryon St.

University Area neighbors are curious about what kind of impact CATS’ LYNX Blue Line will have when it opens in 2018.  About 40 people attended the meeting and asked questions focusing on factors that may affect the timing of development.  While the light-rail line may be opening in 2018, its interaction with land use and urban design policies (Charlotte Place Types), and ultimately zoning (Unified Development Ordinance), will evolve into the future.

Planning staff noted the relationship between land use and transportation in a 20-minute presentation that introduced the audience to Charlotte Place Types (policies) and the Unified Development Ordinance (rules).  These are two parts of one effort: making sure our land use/design policies support our rules for development.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council

Feb. 21, 7 p.m.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center
600 E. 4th St.

“Is planning like cooking?  If building and street standards are your ingredients, then developers and residents can mix them together in a number of different ways.”

This was a great question and comment from one of 50 high school students learning about Charlotte Place Types/UDO during a presentation from Planning staff.  The Youth Council helps teens take an active role in learning how to solve challenges impacting Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and growth/development is definitely worth learning about, as today’s teens will be part of Charlotte’s 1-million person city in the near future. (see below)

1_million_by_2040Today’s teenagers will live in much bigger city in the future, so it’s important for them to learn about and have a voice in their future.

policy_rulesMandy Vari (left) and Catherine Mahoney (right), Charlotte-Mecklenburg planners, explain the two main steps in planning – Policy (Charlotte Place Types) and Regulation (UDO)

During the 45-minute presentation and interactive game, students also asked questions including:  How does development happen?  Who do planners work with? Do planners only work with developers?  The Charlotte Place Types/UDO presentation noted that planners work with many different groups in the community, not just developers, and that good development happens when plans/policies are in place and zoning implements the intent of plans/policies.

kids_at_tableStudents play an interactive game, part of Meeting in a Box, to learn about how Charlotte Place Types inform the look and feel of different parts of our city.

Cherry Neighborhood Association

Feb. 27, 6 p.m.
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
517 Baldwin Ave.

How will Charlotte Place Type relate to a fairly recent and detailed Area Plan?

This question came up as over 60 neighbors from Cherry asked about the Midtown Morehead Cherry Area Plan (2012) and how it would interact with Charlotte Place Types and the UDO.  This quarterly neighborhood meeting provided a great venue to start the community discussion on how Charlotte Place Types will update and enhance land use and urban design policies citywide.

kathy_cornettKathy Cornett (center), a Charlotte-Mecklenburg planner, introduces Charlotte Place Types and Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to the Cherry neighborhood.

More recent Area Plans like Cherry’s contain greater detail and direction, notably on urban design, so plans like it should not anticipate a lot of changes in the near future.  For areas of the city that have Area Plans over 10 years old (73% of City’s land area, see below), Charlotte Place Types aim to provide neighborhoods across the city with better detail and direction on both land use and urban design.