Huntersville Evaluating Possible Changes to Residential Zoning Districts

At its regular meeting this past Monday night, the Huntersville Town Board held a public hearing on Text Amendment 14-02, which would allow for higher densities on land currently zoned as Rural.

Staff has drafted two options for the Board to consider.  Option 1 would effectively allow for .88 units per acre (after roads, etc.) if a developer were willing to set aside 45% of the property as open space.  Option 2 would allow for .9 units per acre and contains a sliding scale as it relates to the open space set aside.

The Town Board is also considering another change, Text Amendment 13-05, which would allow for higher densities in areas currently zoned as Transitional Residential.  Under current zoning, developers could place up to .95 units per acre, but under the proposed language, as many as 1.5 units per acre would be allowed.  Again, staff has prepared two options for the Board’s consideration.  Under Option 1, a developer could have a density of 1.5 units per acre if he was willing to set aside 40% of the property as open space.  Under Option 2, a maximum of 1.5 units per acre would be allowed with a sliding scale for the open space set aside.

The Huntersville Town Board has deferred action on both amendments until its March 3rd meeting.  If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Rob Nanfelt at (720)771-3825 or rob.nanfelt@REBIC.com.

Workshop on Morehead PED Overlay Scheduled for February 27th

PED Postcard

The City of Charlotte will host a second public meeting February 27th at 6 p.m. to discuss possible changes to the PED Overlay District along East Morehead Street.

An initial public meeting in January brought together property owners, developers, commercial brokers and neighborhood activists to consider proposals to impose additional restrictions on building height, architecture and parking in the PED Overlay District adopted just last year along the Morehead corridor and in much of Midtown.

A proposal to lower the maximum building height from 100′ to 60′ along a stretch of East Morehead was rejected by both sides as unnecessary after planning staff showed it would impact only a limited number of properties. But left unresolved were suggestions to require new street-level design standards and to increase the minimum required parking ratio for multifamily development (currently at 1 space per unit). City staff is in the process of reviewing the feedback provided by the group and will convene a follow-up meeting sometime in February.

The PED was first approved in 1999 and has been utilized in numerous areas of the City to promote walkable, mixed-use development. In exchange for its higher-density by-right zoning, developers are required to meet enhanced building design standards and construct a pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

It is REBIC’s position that any changes to the PED would adversely impact those investors who purchased sites in the Morehead corridor with the expectation that they could exercise the development rights provided by the Overlay District. Altering those rights to appease a vocal neighborhood group would produce citywide economic uncertainty, deter real estate investment in Charlotte and have lasting consequences for economic development and property values.

We encourage any property owners, brokers or developers with property in the Midtown and Morehead areas to attend the February 27th workshop in Freedom Park!

To review the material presented at last week’s workshop, click HERE.

Columbia University Economist Talks Homeownership at 2014 REBIC Forum

IMG_2960Nationally renowned housing economist Christopher Mayer came to Charlotte last Thursday to talk about the benefits of homeownership, and discuss how federal, state and local policies can help expand the opportunities for more Americans to own their own home.

Dr. Mayer, a professor of Real Estate Finance & Economics at New York’s Columbia Business School, was in town to speak at the 2014 REBIC Forum, a gathering of real estate professionals, elected officials and community leaders, held at UNC Charlotte’s Center City Building.  Some of the highlights of his remarks are below:

 

  • He said the housing bubble was felt around the world, not just in the United States. Nations like Spain, Ireland and China saw similar run-ups in housing values, followed by even more devastating crashes.
  • The homeownership rate in the U.S. peaked in 2004, but investors kept the bubble inflating for another three years afterward. Speculators, he said, are more to blame for the housing crash than home buyers.
  • Very few underwater homeowners walked away from their homes during the crisis, he said. Most defaults were by housing market speculators and investors with no skin in the game.
  • Home equity is the dominant source of personal wealth for older Americans, and the homeownership rate for Americans aged 65 – 69 exceeds 86 percent.
  • Home equity can ease the path to retirement, he said, as well as help avoid an economic future in which taxpayers must subsidize the housing and health care costs of lower-income Americans.
  • There is NO evidence that government policies helped cause the financial crisis, he claimed, citing evidence that more than 84% of subprime mortgages issued by lenders were not subject to the Community Reinvestment Act
  • Student loan debt represents one of the greatest challenges to today’s first-time home buyers, and is a growing crisis that our nation must begin to address.
  • “We need to establish a path for responsible homeownership in America,” he said. “But government policies requiring high down payments are not the answer.”
  • He also said the mortgage industry needs to become more innovative, rolling out tools like portable mortgages and hybrid ARMs. In addition, he said the government needed to reconsider whether the federal Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) was providing sufficient benefit to first-time buyers. He suggested that a federal tax credit for homebuyers may serve as a better tool to get middle-class Americans into their own homes.

If you missed last week’s REBIC Forum, you can listen to Dr. Mayer’s full talk at the links below:

PART ONE

PART TWO

PART THREE

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Workshop on Morehead PED Overlay Resolves Some Issues Between Property Owners & Residents

PedOverlayZoningAmendment_600

A public meeting to address concerns raised by an influential neighborhood group about the PED Overlay District along East Morehead St. resolved some key issues but left others open for further discussion.

Hosted by Charlotte’s Planning staff, last week’s meeting brought together property owners, developers, commercial brokers and neighborhood activists to consider proposals to impose additional restrictions on building height, architecture and parking in the PED Overlay District adopted just last year along the Morehead corridor and in much of Midtown.

A proposal to lower the maximum building height from 100′ to 60′ along a stretch of East Morehead was rejected by both sides as unnecessary after planning staff showed it would impact only a limited number of properties. But left unresolved were suggestions to require new street-level design standards and to increase the minimum required parking ratio for multifamily development (currently at 1 space per unit). City staff is in the process of reviewing the feedback provided by the group and will convene a follow-up meeting sometime in February.

The PED was first approved in 1999 and has been utilized in numerous areas of the City to promote walkable, mixed-use development. In exchange for its higher-density by-right zoning, developers are required to meet enhanced building design standards and construct a pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

It is REBIC’s position that any changes to the PED would adversely impact those investors who purchased sites in the Morehead corridor with the expectation that they could exercise the development rights provided by the Overlay District. Altering those rights to appease a vocal neighborhood group would produce citywide economic uncertainty, deter real estate investment in Charlotte and have lasting consequences for economic development and property values.

We will continue to advocate for the Midtown/Morehead PED Overlay District to remain unchanged.

To review the material presented at last week’s workshop, click HERE.

Public Meeting TONIGHT on Proposed Zoning Changes for Restaurants, Bars & Nightclubs

Maverick Rock TacoAfter a nearly four-month delay, Charlotte’s Citizen Advisory Group on Restaurants, Bars and Nightclubs will meet Thursday, January 16th at 6 p.m. in Room 267 of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

Staff will review the proposed Text Amendment creating a new zoning category for Eating, Drinking and Entertainment Establishments, which includes new regulations to separate restaurants, bars and nightclubs with outdoor dining from adjacent residential properties.

With its vague definitions of restaurants and nightclubs, the City’s existing zoning code creates a great deal of confusion for owners and operators of dining establishments, as well as for the commercial brokers who need clarity to understand whether or not a particular use will be allowed on a client’s property.

Between 2010 and 2011, the city issued more than 29 notices of violation to establishments that failed to comply with their zoning conditions (most were for separation requirements). So in 2011, the City began the process of developing new definitions for restaurants, bars and nightclubs, to eliminate confusion and provide greater flexibility for property owners. The process was put on hold in 2012 while the Noise Ordinance was updated, and got underway again late last year.

REBIC is evaluating the proposed language, which is summarized HERE. A public hearing on the Text Amendment is scheduled for February 17th. We welcome any input from our broker and commercial developer members on this important subject.

For additional information on the Restaurant/Bar/Nightclub stakeholder group, including PowerPoint presentations by staff, click HERE.

Huntersville Begins Work on Area Plan for Upper Ramah Creek Basin

RamahCreekAreaPlanMap

Last Thursday evening the Town of Huntersville planning staff held a meeting for the purpose of obtaining public comments prior to the adoption of the Upper Ramah Creek Basin Small Area Plan.  During the briefing, staff provided an overview of current and future happenings in the study area including:

  • North Ramah Creek sewer extension from existing location to NC-73 will begin in the spring of 2014 and should be completed by the spring of 2016.
  • Description of location of future transit station (Red Line) NC-115 and NC-73.
  • Summary of the NC-73 Land Use Corridor Plan (I-85 to Lincoln County).

Staff also briefed the group on some of the comments they had already received from community residents regarding the study area.  According to staff, most felt that:

  • Any land east of the Willowbrook subdivision should continue to be low intensity development.
  • Any land west of the Willowbrook subdivision should be higher intensity commercial and residential development.
  • Any land near the future transit station should be light industrial or transit oriented development.

The next meeting will be held on March 13th at 6:00 p.m. at Huntersville Town Hall.  At that meeting, staff will give an updated summary of comments received.   Another opportunity to provide additional input will also be provided.  Staff hopes to present a final plan presentation to the Town Board at its regularly scheduled meeting on July 21st at 6:30 pm.  If you have any questions or concerns about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Rob Nanfelt with REBIC.

You can download the information presented at the meeting at the links below:

Cornelius Town Board Adopts Land Use Plan Update

2013LandUseMapFinal

Following several public hearings, the Cornelius Town Board of Commissioners last week unanimously approved an update to its Land Use Plan.  The vote came following months of work by the Town’s Planning Board, Planning Director Wayne Herron, and outside consultant Clarion & Associates.  This was the first such revision made to the plan since 1999.  Some key elements that were adopted include:

  • A new medium density category that supports single family uses only, no multi-family.  This new category has been applied to the north side of Bailey Road.
  • The proposed density for the Low-Density Rural category has been changed from a two-acre minimum lot size to a three-acre minimum lot size.
  • Reducing the size of the Waterfront Mixed Use district along West Catawba Avenue, and returning the Cashion property at U.S. 21 and Washam Potts Road to Medium Density Residential.
  • Along Bailey Road, including Medium Density near the schools and parks and further added some Low Density Single Family just below the High School.
  • The area along Mayes Road and Highway 73 is recommended to be Low Density Single Family.
  • Allowing for increased residential densities in the geography east of NC 115, where 5-acre minimum lot sizes are now required.

You can download the final version of the Land Use Plan HERE. The map is available for download HERE.

If you have any questions about the plan please feel free to contact Rob Nanfelt with REBIC.