City Council Holds TOD Public Hearing Monday Night

qkN8sxKYR4m00izfcke05g_thumb_1e57The Charlotte City Council will hold a public hearing this Monday night on the new Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinancethe first zoning district to be completed in the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

REBIC and our members have been closely engaged in the process of drafting the new TOD ordinance over the past 18 months, and the City planning staff, have incorporated many of our suggestions into the ordinance — from changes in maximum parking ratios to reduced open space requirements. And while we are pleased with many aspects of the TOD, we remain concerned that its limitations on building height could negatively impact economic development in Charlotte’s transit corridors.

The ordinance currently caps base height at a maximum of 130’ in the TOD-UC district, its most dense, and offers developers additional height in exchange for bonus points that advance other City objectives, like affordable housing, transportation improvements or energy efficiency. While we support each of these policy goals, we believe City Council should do everything possible to encourage density in our transit corridors, and not restrict itself from considering economic development opportunities that would otherwise be limited by the building height caps in each TOD district.

In a letter to Council and Planning Commission, we have asked for a modification in the ordinance  to allow Maximum Height Restrictions to be modified through the use of the TOD-EX District. We believe this approach would give developers the opportunity to seek a rezoning through Council for projects that do not meet the building height limitations or a particular TOD district, while ensuring the community has a voice in the rezoning process.

This modification would ensure that unique development projects have a pathway to approval outside the by-right approval process outlined in the ordinance. Without this option, we fear certain projects may build outside the transit corridors, where infrastructure is less able to accommodate the density, or not move forward at all.

weomNGEsSxyUY0KxYl9G3g_thumb_1f2aThe 80-plus page TOD ordinance, with its extensive architectural design standards, would take effect as early as June 30th, with all existing TOD districts converting to the medium-density TOD-CC district on that date. REBIC would prefer a transition period until January 1, 2020, to allow property owners and developers time to review and evaluate the extensive design and architectural standards in the new ordinance. Planning staff is pushing for a more immediate implementation, and says they’ll work with developers who have made engineering investments under one of the current districts.

Some of the other changes REBIC worked to secure in the revised TOD draft include:

  • Additional Bonus Menu Options: More incentives for the inclusion of affordable housing units, including a horizontal density bonus through open space reductions and building length, and the addition of several environmental items.
  • Open Space Changes: Calculations regarding open space are revised and include an easier calculation of the amount required and revised standards to when public open space is required.
  • Public Realm Standards: Provides clarification on language regarding streetscape and future back of curb measurements, based on varying street types and a planned citywide street map.
  • Revised Townhome Language: Clarifies that townhomes are not subject to the ordinance’s aesthetic requirements, reduces open space requirement.

The public hearing for the TOD Ordinance is Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. If you would like to sign up to speak please do so here:  https://charlottenc.gov/CityClerk/Pages/Speak.aspx

Planning staff yesterday also released an Economic Impact Report on the TOD, which is available here.

You can find extensive background on the TOD ordinance, including previous drafts, at the City website: www.charlotteudo.org.

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