City Explores New Parking Regulations for Student Housing Developments

Image

Last Thursday evening, City planners gave a presentation to a Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) that has been providing input for over a year on parking and housing related strategies for developments near colleges and universities.  The PowerPoint can be found HERE.

The group has been meeting and discussing numerous ideas to ease safety concerns voiced by students residing in certain rent-by-the-bedroom properties and to find solutions to parking issues that arise when students park in or around neighborhoods.

Several months ago, the group made the following recommendations on housing to staff:

  • Prohibit rent-by-bedroom development in the zoning ordinance
  • Limit developments renting by bedroom to students only
  • Amend the dormitory definition in the zoning ordinance
  • Create public/private partnerships between Universities and developers/management companies
  • Limit development renting by bedroom to specific zoning districts
  • Amend the building code to include increased safety measures
  • Amend the City’s Rental Registration Ordinance

After considering each recommendation and researching the practicality of implementation, staff reported that due to certain provisions of the Fair Housing Act and the finding of the Appeals Court in Graham Court Associates v. Town Council of the Town of Chapel Hill, they were precluded from moving forward on any of the recommendations.  Instead, they asked representatives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to provide a presentation on the soon-to-be-unveiled Niner Choice Program. 

Developed with the assistance of UNCC officials, Niner Choice would provide a favorability score to multi-family developments that chose to participate.  Property managers for these properties would then be free to use this rating in their marketing materials.  During the presentation, several representatives for the property managers repeatedly expressed concern regarding the legality of such a program.  Assurances from UNCC and Police Department representatives did not seem to ease their concerns.

As it relates to parking, the following recommendations were presented to the group:

  • Amend University City Area Plan to implement parking maximums for new multifamily development surrounding UNCC.
  • CATS/UNCC consider extending shuttle service times/routes.
  • Analyze Bike and Pedestrian network and assess need for new sidewalks and bike lanes.
  • Assess need for bike share stations along proposed Blue Line Extension and surrounding UNCC.
  • Explore the need for Zip Cars or other car sharing programs.
  • Study the possibility of shared parking agreements with property owners.
  • Assess areas where on-street parking could be provided.

Several members of the development community expressed doubt that implementing parking maximums for new multi-family developments would achieve the desired outcome of students leaving their cars at home.  Despite a rather long, and at times vigorous discussion, staff told the group it was going to take the recommendations to the Transportation and Planning Committee and present them at the October 21st meeting.  They will then report back to the CAG sometime in early November.

REBIC will continue to monitor the progress of the CAG and advocate for the interests of our members.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Makes Key Personnel Change Before Annual Commission Retreat

Gvmt Center 2Members of the development industry learned last week that City zoning administrator Katrina Young had been reassigned to other duties, and that planner Shad Spencer was replacing her as Interim Manager.

The change was made just a few days before the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission held its annual retreat at ImaginOn in Uptown.  During the event, planning staff provided a presentation to commissioners that, among other things, described some of the changes the department plans to make during the next couple of years.  The presentation was broken into three main sections entitled ‘Leading With Vision’, ‘Engaging Partners’, and ‘Building A Great City’.

Under the ‘Leading With Vision’ section, staff described their intention to more proactively engage the public on zoning issues, better utilize technology for communication purposes, and reconsider how planning is done. It was also mentioned that staff would begin responding to the Zoning Ordinance Assessment recently completed by outside consultant Clarion & Associates. This process, which will likely consume much of the next year, will focus on making recommendations to Planning Commission members and City Council on how to move forward with revisions to the ordinance.

In the ‘Engaging Our Partners’ section, staff described how their work relies on successfully engaging and collaborating with citizens, stakeholders, elected officials, and members of appointed boards.  They mentioned plans to look at a rezoning process update and some future enhancements of the Planning Department’s website.

Finally, under the ‘Building A Great City’ banner, staff mentioned several new initiatives including: eliminating outdated zoning regulations, creating a process to better link area plan policies with plan implementation, improving customer service, and better responding to market and demographic changes.  Staff also described how they needed to do a better job of getting out of the way of the right kinds of projects so they could be planned, approved, and built in a more timely and thereby more cost effective manner.

City Council Primary Sets Stage for November Elections

Vote

If you’ve ever wondered whether your vote makes a difference, consider this: just 34,468 City of Charlotte voters turned out to the polls in last week’s Primary Election, an abysmal turnout of 6.67 percent. In one City Council race, just a single additional vote for one candidate would have eliminated the need for a costly runoff that will cost Mecklenburg County taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Those voters who did take the time to vote last Tuesday or in the preceding two weeks helped set up a November 5th General Election that will bring dramatic changes to Charlotte’s City Council, no matter who wins. Here’s our take on the how things stack up:

Mayor:

The only real Mayoral primary race took on place the Democratic ballot, where councilman Patrick Cannon took nearly 56% of the vote in a contest many pundits thought would be much tighter. His opponent, James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell, came in more than 4,000 votes back, bringing an end to his 14 years of service on City Council. Cannon will now face Republican candidate Edwin Peacock III in November, whose win in a technically contested primary was a foregone conclusion.

REBIC Endorsed: Cannon (D) and Peacock (R)

City Council At Large:

Three candidates, Michael Barnes, David Howard and Vi Alexander Lyles, took a commanding percentage of votes in the Democratic Primary, leaving Claire Green Fallon to squeak into the fourth slot with a 400-vote victory over fellow incumbent Beth Pickering. The four will face Republicans Vanessa Faura, Mark Frietch, Ken Harris, and Dennis Peterson in the November 5th General Election (there was no GOP Primary).

REBIC Endorsed: Barnes, Fallon, Howard & Lyles

District 1:

Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey (D), easily won another term in her District seat (she chose not to run for Mayor), with more than 92% of the vote. She is unopposed in November.

REBIC Endorsed: Kinsey

District 2:

None of the four Democratic candidates received the required 40% necessary to avoid an October 8th Runoff, which will likely see Al Austin face off against Brenda Stevenson for the seat now held by James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell.

REBIC Endorsed: Austin

District 3:

There were no primary races in this District, meaning incumbent LaWana Mayfield (D), will face challengers C. Travis Wheat (L) and Eric Netter (R) in November.

District 4:

Another runoff appears likely in the District 4 Democratic Primary, as planning commissioner Greg Phipps fell just short of the 40% threshold (he took an agonizingly close 39.99% of the vote). Pending recount results, Phipps will likely take on challenger Wil Russell on October 8th. The winner will be unopposed on the November ballot, and go on to replace Michael Barnes as the District 4 representative on City Council.

REBIC Endorsed: Russell

District 5:

Incumbent John Autry (D) will return for a second term on City Council after taking 67% of the vote in the primary. He is unopposed in November.

REBIC Endorsed: Autry

District 6:

In one of the most compelling races on the ballot, Kenny Smith, a commercial real estate broker, defeated attorney Kate Payerle by just over 300 votes in the Republican primary. Neither of the two remaining candidates managed to capture more than 6% of the vote. Smith is unopposed in the General Election, and will replace departing councilman Andy Dulin when the new Council is sworn in this December.

REBIC Endorsed: Payerle AND Smith

District 7:

We were particularly pleased to see Ed Driggs comfortably win the Republican primary in District 7 over divisive opponent Jay Privette. Driggs will face Democrat Bakari Burton in the November General Election.

REBIC Endorsed: Driggs

 

REBIC Board Endorses CMS Bond Campaign

Bonds2013_Lapel.3x1.625

This November, Mecklenburg County residents will be asked to vote on a bond package consisting of $290 million for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and $210 million for Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). CMS plans to use the money toward 17 projects that will relieve overcrowding, offer more academic options for students, and renovate, replace and improve existing facilities. CPCC’s portion will fund ten projects that will expand and modernize its facilities, provide technical training space, and add instructional classrooms and labs.

REBIC supports the bond referendum as an essential way to raise much-needed capital that CMS and CPCC need to keep pace with Mecklenburg County’s growth. We will continue to work with the Charlotte Chamber and other bond campaign partners in the weeks ahead to educate real estate industry members and the general public about the importance of voting YES for Education Bonds on Tuesday, November 5th!

To learn more about the projects, please visit www.VoteYesForBonds.com.

Town of Matthews Prepares to Adopt Unified Development Ordinance

20130916-141413.jpg

The Town of Matthews is in the process of bringing together all of its land use regulations into one comprehensive document. The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) combines zoning and subdivision regulations, with stormwater codes, minimum housing provisions, and flood prevention regulations. A draft of the document may be found HERE.

The staff at REBIC intends to review the document and provide comments to the Town Council and staff as appropriate. The initial public hearing has been set for October 14th at 7:00 pm and public input will continue to be accepted over an as yet to be determined period of time. It is also anticipated that adoption of the text of the document and implementation will likely occur at different times with an effective date to be set several months into the future.

We would very much appreciate your thoughts on the draft UDO so we may assist in communicating your concerns to Council and staff as the process plays out. If you have any input, questions, or concerns, please contact Rob Nanfelt, REBIC Government Affairs Manager, rob.nanfelt@rebic.com or (720)771-3825.