Our Picks for the City Council Primary

Charlotte Skyline

The September 10th Primary Election will give Charlotte voters a chance to dramatically change the makeup of their City Council. Only six of the 11 seats are pursued by incumbents, and city will also have a new Mayor this December.

REBIC has been evaluating candidates in each race since qualifying ended in July, using both a written survey and formal interviews with a panel of Realtors®, home builders, commercial brokers, and developers of office, retail, industrial and multifamily projects. Here are our endorsements for the Primary:

Mayor:

Two very capable incumbent councilmen are vying for the Democratic nomination for Mayor, but Patrick Cannon gets our endorsement over James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell. While we’ve haven’t seen eye-to-eye with him on every issue, Patrick has a strong grasp of our industry’s priorities (his wife is a Realtor®) and a track record of being deliberative and fiscally responsible during his long tenure on council.

Edwin Peacock is the only serious candidate in the Republican primary, and the former councilman should get your vote. He has a good vision for increasing economic development, along with the experience to make it happen.

City Council At Large:

Voters citywide will choose four of seven At-Large candidates in the Democratic primary to advance to the General Election. District 4 councilman Michael Barnes is running at large for the first time, and while we don’t usually agree with him on policy, he has demonstrated a willingness to listen and give our industry a fair hearing. Incumbent Claire Fallon also gets our nod. She’s an independent thinker and her time on Planning Commission gives her a strong grasp of zoning and land use issues.

As an affordable housing developer, David Howard also has an excellent understanding of our industry, and has performed ably during his time on city council. Our fourth At-Large endorsement goes to a relative newcomer,
Vi Alexander Lyles. She is a bright and engaging professional whose experience in city management will bring a fresh perspective to the council.

There are only four Republican candidates in the Primary, so all will advance to the November ballot.

District 1:

Council members selected Patsy Kinsey (D) to serve as Mayor this summer because they recognize that her experience, professionalism and willingness to work across party lines made her the right choice to replace Anthony Foxx. Voters should concur with their wisdom and return her for another term in her district (she is not seeking the mayoral nomination). There are no Republican candidates vying for the seat.

District 2:

Al Austin (D) was the only candidate in this race who returned our survey and came in for an interview. He is bright, amiable and will serve the district well. There are no Republican candidates vying for the seat, which is currently held by mayoral candidate James Mitchell.

District 3:

There is no competitive primary for this race. The incumbent, LaWana Mayfield (D), is running unopposed. Eric Netter (R) and C. Travis Wheat (L) are also unopposed in the primary election.

District 4:

While Gregg Phipps has experience on both planning commission and city council, our nod goes to newcomer Will Russell. His service on City stakeholder committees has given him a strong grasp of zoning and land use issues, and his engaging personality will make him an effective replacement for Michael Barnes on council. There are no Republican candidates vying for the seat.

District 5:

Incumbent John Autry (D) is running against token opposition, and will easily be re-elected. We don’t often agree with him on policy issues, but he is always willing to consider our perspective and is passionate about bringing redevelopment to his district. He deserves another 2 years on Council. There are no Republican candidates vying for the seat.

District 6:

Two truly outstanding candidates are running in the Republican primary to replace the retiring Andy Dulin in District 6.  Kenny Smith is a commercial broker with an outstanding knowledge of our industry. He was impressive both during the our interview process and in our recent Candidate Forum. Attorney Kate Payerle, another political newcomer, is extremely bright and articulate. She presents herself well and would bring a deliberative nature that would greatly benefit the district.

Either Kate or Kenny would make a superb addition to City Council, and both get our endorsement over their opponents. There are no Democratic candidates vying for the seat.

District 7:

Of the three Republican candidates running to replace Warren Cooksey, the standout is Ed Driggs. He’s intelligent and thoughtful, and would bring a wealth of financial management experience to City Council budget deliberations. We also believe he would work effectively across party lines and look out for the interests of the city as a whole. He earns our endorsement and deserves your vote.

Duncan Wilson is a fresh face to Charlotte politics and someone we hope will stick around for some time to come. He possesses abundant energy and understands what Charlotte needs to grow. But Jay Privette has a divisive vision for Charlotte that could set our city back for many years. The Democrat primary for the seat is not contested.

The Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, September 10th, but Early Voting is already underway (click HERE for more details). REBIC will be distributing a Voter Guide to members of our industry next week, and we encourage everyone to get out and vote!

Mecklenburg County Committee Recommends New Requirement for Construction Site Recycling

Will you have to keep one of these on your job site?

Will you have to keep one of these on your job site?

A Mecklenburg County advisory committee recommended changes last week to the existing Source Separation Ordinance (SSO) that would remove a Temporary Site exemption and begin requiring recycling on all construction and demolition sites. REBIC and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce were the only members of the committee to not vote in support of the changes, which would also extend recycling requirements to thousands of small business owners across the county.

If the changes are approved by the Board of County Commissioners late this year, residential construction sites that contract for the pickup of at least 8 cubic yards of trash per week (determined by how often a 30-cubic-yard container is emptied) would be required to establish a process for collecting all corrugated cardboard from their job sites and separating it from the normal waste flow. This would necessitate either the use of separate recycling bins on most jobsites, or the use of a Mixed-Waste hauler who would separate the recyclable material off-site.

Because of REBIC’s engagement on this issue, the committee agreed to recommend that the recycling requirement not take effect for single-family home builders until 2016.

Elimination of the Temporary Site exemption was proposed in the most recent update of the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan, as a way to capture the estimated 7,600 tons of corrugated cardboard and 4,200 tons of wooden pallets the county believes now passes through local construction sites each year.

REBIC is advocating instead for Mecklenburg County to enact an incentive-based pilot program to encourage builders to take steps to voluntarily recycle on their job sites. We’ll be educating members of the county commission on our concerns about the cost and logistical challenges of implementing mandatory recycling on all single-family construction sites, particularly for smaller builders. The proposed ordinance will also need to be approved by each of the six local Towns before it can take effect.

For more information on the proposed rule changes, check out the county’s Source Separation website.

If your company already has an on-site recycling program in place, we’d like to know the details. Also, how would the current proposal impact your business? Please e-mail us at Joe.Padilla@REBIC.com.

City Council Candidates Face Off at REBIC Forum

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Mayoral candidates Edwin Peacock III (R) and Patrick Cannon (D) offer their take on real estate & development issues at the REBIC Candidate Forum

Candidates for Charlotte Mayor and City Council faced off last Thursday at the REBIC Candidate Forum in SouthPark. Hosted by Piedmont Natural Gas, the event gave real estate professionals to hear the candidates’ positions on zoning, development permitting and other issues critical to our industry.

Mayoral candidates Edwin Peacock III (R) and Patrick Cannon (D) both said they would take steps to improve the relationship between the City and the North Carolina General Assembly, with Cannon saying he was already considered by many legislators to be a councilman who would put aside partisanship to get things done. Peacock took aim at the contentious, yearlong process by which the current Council approved its budget and Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), saying he would have opposed the controversial streetcar project that was originally included in the package. Mayoral candidate James Mitchell (D) was unable to attend.

The CIP was also a point of contention in the debate between ten At-Large candidates for City Council. Incumbent council members David Howard, Michael Barnes and Beth Pickering all said they supported the approved budget, although Pickering admitted struggling with the decision to raise taxes. Councilwoman Claire Fallon said she was also concerned about the tax increase, and said she adamantly opposed the streetcar, fearing it would ultimately be paid for out of property taxes. All three Republican At-Large candidates in attendance said they would oppose any future tax hikes if elected, and fight to reduce city spending.

The Republican candidates vying to replace current council members Andy Dulin and Warren Cooksey in Districts 6 and 7 were all in agreement that city spending was out of control, the streetcar was unnecessary and the plan approval process needs serious improvement. With policy matters essentially off the table, the debate focused on the qualifications of each candidate to serve in office.

REBIC will be announcing our endorsements for the September 10th Primary Election this Thursday morning, August 29th. You can read the candidates’ responses to our survey HERE.

Your Input Needed this Tuesday on Regional Housing Issues!

Connect Banner

Have you ever considered these questions:  How will we be able to supply the housing needed to allow people to age in place?  How can we ensure that housing is located near jobs, schools and transportation?  How can we meet the housing needs for a growing population?

Whether you have or not, your input is needed this Tuesday, August 27 for the CONNECT Our Future Open House on Community Housing Needs scheduled in Charlotte at the East Stonewall AME Zion Church (1729 Griers Grove Road, 28216 – off of Beatties Ford Road).

Regional leaders need to hear from you, your colleagues, networks, friends and family, and fellow residents about the housing challenges your community faces and the type of housing needed in your community.

  • Please drop-in any time between 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm.  It only takes about 30 minutes to complete the board circuit and input forms.
  • This is the first regional housing needs study conducted here and its finding will be critical for communities and the region.  Your input is critical to its success!
  • Your input will help shape the results of the regional housing needs study, which will include recommendations and tools that will inform local and regional housing strategies and decisions for the next four decades.
  • At each open house, we will provide county-specific data and regional information on housing needs and trends, as well as the county-specific results from the first round of CONNECT open houses and small groups.

REBIC is proud to be a partner in the CONNECT Regional Housing Study, and we hope you’ll be able to join us for this Tuesday’s Open House Event!

Postal Service Eyeing Central Delivery for New Single-Family Neighborhoods

Central Mailbox PhotoIn an effort to close a nearly $20 billion budget shortfall, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is implementing changes that could affect how mail is delivered to new single-family neighborhoods across America.

For years the USPS has been hemorrhaging money due to a number of factors, including increased payments to employee healthcare and retirement funds, lack of institutional flexibility, and an outdated business model. So to minimize delivery costs, the agency has adopted a policy giving local postmasters the discretion to require mail delivery to centralized box units (CBUs) in new single-family residential neighborhoods.

This new policy recently came as a surprise to local builder, Classica Homes, which is building single-family houses in the Robbins Park neighborhood in Cornelius. Several weeks ago it received a letter from Cornelius Postmaster Richard Hallowell, stating that “effective immediately, for any new construction the only approved delivery mode [would] be CBUs.”  Planning staff and elected officials in the Town of Cornelius were also unaware of the change, which is particularly problematic as the Robbins Park neighborhood received zoning and plat approval several years ago.

Working with Cornelius Mayor Lynette Rinker and Congressman Robert Pittenger, REBIC was able to secure a waiver for the entire Robbins Park subdivision, allowing the builder to continue with the installation of individual mailboxes for all residents. But the Cornelius Postmaster has told the Town and REBIC that “all future developments must comply with the current guidelines.”

The problem? The Postmaster hasn’t released any guidelines for the installation of CBUs, other than the blanket requirement that they be used in all new single-family neighborhoods. REBIC and the Town of Cornelius have both argued that these guidelines MUST be developed in accordance with the Town’s existing subdivision requirements, and implemented only in communities that have not received preliminary plan approval.

Unlike individual mailboxes, which can easily be installed at the curb on each lot, CBUs are large, bulky units that serve multiple homes on a given street (see photo above). Per USPS guidelines, they must be installed in locations that are a convenient walking distance from the homes they’re serving, and common sense dictates they shouldn’t block driveways or impede a homeowner’s view of the street. This means CBUs need to be planned for when a neighborhood is being designed, or platted, not dropped in at the last minute on a community where homes are already under construction.

But the USPS is foisting the CBU requirement on neighborhoods already approved and in development, and without consulting local elected officials or planners. A survey by REBIC revealed that NO planning directors or staff in any local government in Mecklenburg County had been contacted by USPS regarding this new policy, and would not have known about the change had we not brought it to their attention.

While REBIC applauds the USPS for granting a waiver to the Robbins Park neighborhood, we believe the requirement should be shelved until specific guidelines are drafted and local subdivision ordinances officially amended to reflect these new standards. Also, the USPS should only require CBUs on those neighborhoods where development plans have not yet been approved, so that the developer and engineer can work with planners to appropriately site the boxes in a manner that is safe, convenient, and suitable for the neighborhood’s character.

According to USPS directives, Postal Service representatives are required to meet with builders and developers early in the process to ensure the best choices are made and to assess if the mode of delivery conforms to USPS policy.  It is clear that process did NOT occur in the case of Robbins Park.

To date, in the Charlotte region, the new policy appears to only have been implemented by the Cornelius Postmaster – but others may soon follow suit. REBIC will continue to work on this issue, and needs to know IMMEDIATELY if you have received similar notice from your local postmaster. If so, please e-mail Government Affairs Manager Rob Nanfelt with the details.