The Charlotte City Council has approved a text amendment that establishes new zoning standards for restaurants, bars, breweries and nightclubs, and which could allow some popular local businesses to more easily expand.
The long-awaited amendment is intended to address noise issues in older residential areas like NoDa, Elizabeth and Dilworth, where restaurants with outdoor patios have run into opposition from neighbors. But but reducing the required separation distance for other establishments, it will also help businesses like breweries, which want to expand in these neighborhoods.
The approved amendment removes the zoning definitions for “nightclubs” and “restaurants” and replaces them with two new definitions for “Eating, Drinking and Entertainment Establishments”. Very simply, a Type 1 establishment would NOT serve alcohol, while a Type 2 establishment would. Adult entertainment, hotels and conference centers would NOT be included in either definition.
Each category includes a long list of permissible zoning districts and required separation distances from single-family residential uses, which take effect when patio dining occurs and increase when outdoor entertainment, like music, trivia or even a TV, is provided. From the amendment:
(1) If food or beverages are consumed in an outdoor seating/activity area at any time between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., the use is subject to one of the following prescribed conditions:
(a) The outdoor seating/activity area shall be separated by a distance of at least 100 feet from the nearest property line of a vacant lot or a residential use (single family, duplex, triplex or quadraplex only) when located in a single family zoning district; or
(b) If the outdoor seating/activity area is less than 100 feet from the nearest property line of a vacant lot or a residential use (single family, duplex, triplex or quadraplex only) when located in a single family zoning district, then the outdoor seating/activity area shall be separated by a Class A buffer along all corresponding side and rear property line(s).
For establishments with outdoor entertainment between 11 p.m and 8 a.m., the following separation distances apply:
- Minimum 100′ separation distance in the MUDD, UMUD, TOD and TS zoning districts.
- Minimum 250′ separation distance in the PED zoning district.
- Minimum 400′ separation distance in the UR-2, UR-3, UR-C, RE-3, O-1, O-2, O-3, B-1, B-2, BD, BP, CC, NS, MX-2, MX-3, I-1 and I-2 zoning districts.
When located in a single family zoning district, distances shall be measured from the closest edge of any outdoor seating/activity area to the nearest property line of a vacant lot or a residential use (single family, duplex, triplex or quadraplex only).
For establishments without outdoor entertainment during late-night hours, the text amendment actually reduces the required separation from residential uses from 400′ to 100′. For Charlotte breweries like NoDa, Birdsong and Triple C, the new rules will help them locate and expand in neighborhoods where they previously could not.
As a result of real estate industry comments made during the June 21 public hearing, planning staff amended the ordinance to allow property owners in the MUDD, UMUD, TOD and TS zoning districts to request a reduction in the 100′ separation if certain conditions are met, including a 225′ distance between the property line and any principal residential structures.
REBIC supported the text amendment, and believes it will help balance the interests of residents and business owners in many of Charlotte’s older, more established neighborhoods.
You can download the approved Text Amendment HERE.