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The City of Charlotte has established a Citizens Advisory Group to consider various regulatory and financial incentives seeking to encourage private sector development of affordable housing. At the initial public meeting held September 15, 2011, staff from Neighborhood & Business Services and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department provided an overview of these incentive-based strategies. A citizen advisory group is being sought to address the regulatory strategies and its process is scheduled to begin September 29, 2011. To sign up for this Citizen Advisory Group, please contact Bryman Suttle at 704-336-8325. You can also follow the process at www.charlotteplanning.org.
At City Council’s upcoming zoning meeting this Monday night, a public hearing will he held on the first phase of the proposed Residential Design Guidelines (RDS). These proposals, which you can review HERE, will address setback flexibility, breezeway regulations, restrictions on lots with high-voltage utility transmission structures, and the elimination of an option to request a side-yard reduction to from 5 feet to 3 feet.
REBIC worked successfully with city staff over the past few months on these proposals, and nearly all our concerns with the ordinance language were addressed. Our only remaining issue is the proposal to eliminate the option to reduce side yards to 3′, which we believe would serve as a disincentive for larger SWIM buffers and could raise the cost of housing in some cases.
The more objectionable aesthetic design provisions in the RDS package, including a prohibition on blank walls on corner lots, a “Snout House” prohibition and a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay, will go back to Stakeholder review in the next few weeks, and are expected to come before Council early next year. Committee members felt that the City should move forward with these provisions in light of SB 731’s inability to get a floor vote in the State House. REBIC will continue to voice our strong opposition to these design provisions as they move back through the Stakeholder process.
If you’re interested in speaking on the Phase 1 proposals, the hearing will begin Monday night, September 19, at 6 p.m. in the Council chambers. But be prepared for a long wait, as this item is the last on a rather lenghty zoning agenda.
When City Council adopted a policy in late 2001 to promote the development of Assisted Multi-Family Housing around Blue Line rail stations, it planned on revisiting it within two years to determine whether it had been effective. Now, nearly a decade later, city staff is finally getting around to it – and a quick analysis shows there is much more work to be done. To date, 79 rezonings have occurred along the South transit corridor, totaling 355 acres. More than 2,100 housing units have been constructed along the line, with another 4,500 in the pipeline. But of those units, only 180 are below-market, assisted product. A meeting last month with development industry representatives produced some ideas on how to revise the policy to help spur increased development of assisted housing in transit corridors, including:
- Expanding the transit station radius to a half-mile
- Removing the maximum percentage of affordable units in a
multi-family, mixed-income development
- Removing the required minimum densities for a transit corridor development
- Focusing on achieving mixed-income housing within a transit station area instead of within individual developments.
City Council’s Housing & Neighborhood Development (HAND) committee discussed the policy at its meeting on September 7, and will revisit it again in October before making recommendations to Council. You can find a copy of the staff presentation on this topic HERE.
Charlotte’s four-year-old Post-Construction Controls Ordinance could undergo a minor facelift in the next few weeks – and the changes would be good news for developers. In response to a growing number of variance requests, the city’s storm water staff has proposed expanding a mitigation fee option for redevelopment sites citywide on a two-year trial basis. If adopted, this means any redevelopment project over one acre in size could elect to pay a $90,000-per-acre mitigation fee in lieu of installing expensive water quality controls on site. The option is currently only available for those projects built in transit corridors or areas designated as “distressed business districts.” While the proposed mitigation fee is high, it is often significantly lower than the full cost of on-site PCCO compliance, particularly for small, infill projects.
The proposal has been predictably lambasted by the environmental lobby, which claims it will lead to further degradation of urban streams by allowing developers greater leeway to “pay to pollute.” But REBIC supports the proposal as an important step toward encouraging increased redevelopment of in-town sites and the subsequent revitalization of neighborhoods. We also support an accompanying proposal to remove the natural area requirement from the PCCO, as it would consolidate all tree preservation requirements under the city’s Tree Ordinance.
The City Council’s Environment Committee debated the changes during their meeting last month, after hearing testimony from REBIC, the Storm Water Advisory Commission, the Tree Commission, and local tree advocate Rick Roti. The committee will take up the issue again at its next meeting on September 26, and is expected to take a vote at that time before forwarding the issue back to the full Council. REBIC is strongly encouraging all our members to make their voice heard on this important issue, and we’re doing everything we can to make it easy for you to do so. Just CLICK HERE for more information on how to help.