West Charlotte meeting focuses on affordable housing choices

West Charlotte residents asked about the intersection of affordable housing and growth/development regulations at a July 19 meeting held at the Dr. John T. Crawford Renaissance Center in the westside neighborhood of Renaissance West.

Ed McKinney (right), Interim Planning Director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department, fields questions on the intersection between affordable housing and land use policy and regulations.

Members of the West Side Community Land Trust learned about Charlotte Place Types, land use and urban design policies that will guide the creation of a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The UDO will contain zoning and other development-related regulations covering areas such as stormwater, trees, and streets/sidewalks.

The discussion focused on gentrification and affordable housing, including what tools the City can use to support affordable housing and protect the character of Charlotte’s westside neighborhoods.  The issue is likely to be one of a handful of priorities the UDO can focus on in the short-term.

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.

Community leaders learn about Charlotte Place Types/UDO

How can the city incorporate more green/sustainable building standards? How can we protect more of our historic buildings?

Members of the City’s new Civic Leadership Academy (CLA) asked these questions during an April 1, 2017 meeting with planning staff on Charlotte Place Types/UDO.  The CLA is a free 8-week course specifically designed for Charlotteans who are ready to take the next step in being community leaders and improving the quality of life in all of Charlotte’s neighborhoods.

As a general planning principle, the “greenest” buildings are often ones that are already built, especially historic buildings. Sustainable design in new construction is important, but the embodied energy (materials/energy used to make bricks, glass, steel, etc.) in existing buildings makes them “Super Sustainable”.  Planning staff also noted that Historic Landmarks (Mecklenburg County designation for individual buildings) and Historic Districts (City of Charlotte zoning districts for neighborhoods) both need high levels of commitment from property owners.

Among the audience of 30 people, greenways were another topic that came up as Planning staff shared Here’s What We Heard from meetings in Nov.-Dec. 2016.  Our conversation with CLA members was part of a multi-week series, but we’re glad to meet groups as needed.  If your organization’s interested in learning more about Charlotte Place Types/UDO, check out Request A Meeting under Get Involved on our home page.

NoDa ponders past, future with Charlotte Place Types/UDO

How can we better engage renters? How can we keep our existing business district buildings?

These were a couple of questions raised by members of the North Davidson (NoDa) Neighborhood & Business Association at a March 21, 2017 meeting with planning staff to learn more about Charlotte Place Types and the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

Seven NoDa neighbors noted that they’re trying to balance the neighborhood’s mill village past, notably in architectural character within the neighborhood’s residential interior.  A few common elements of the neighborhood’s residential character include:  deep eaves, front porches, large windows, and wood frame construction.

Planning staff noted that as part of the upcoming UDO, infill development and change in older neighborhoods will definitely be a conversation topic.  Planning staff also noted that tools ranging from historic districts to neighborhood conservation overlay districts (NCOD) are potential tools for addressing concerns about context-sensitive development.

NoDa neighbors also indicated interests in using adaptive reuse to preserve older buildings along North Davidson Street and 36th Street, NoDa’s business district. Given the neighborhood’s popularity, NoDa neighbors are also keen to engage renters as new apartment buildings develop in the neighborhood.

NoDa neighbors were also curious about planning/zoning tools that affect housing affordability, which is a conversation topic in many in-town neighborhoods.  Planning staff noted that the ease or burden of creating housing supply is influenced by planning/zoning, and will be part of a larger community conversation in creating the UDO.

Our conversation with NoDa neighbors was around the table at local restaurant, so we’re glad to meet people in a range of settings.  If your organization’s interested in learning more about Charlotte Place Types/UDO, check out Request A Meeting under Get Involved on our home page.

“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.



Here’s What We Heard

If you’re one of 159 people that recently attended Community Workshops or one one of 2,005 people that visited us online, thank you for your interest in the UDO. Check out our Photo Gallery for scenes from the Community Workshops.

These meetings, held across the city Nov. 29 – Dec. 15, 2016, started some important conversations between City staff and the community (click and zoom in on graphic below). Housing was a popular conversation topic, ranging from housing affordability to housing design in both historic districts and newly developing areas.

People shared their favorite places in a variety of formats including paper surveys at meetings and online via our “Meeting in a Box”.  This includes an interactive map where you can Share Your Favorite Place.

The community workshops and online exercises introduced Charlotte Place Types to the community, so our next step will be to start mapping these Place Types. Mapping Workshops are planned for Spring 2017 and more information on these will be coming shortly.