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“In The News” Feb. 2021 – Charlotte’s Housing Roadmap details expansion housing

“In The News” Feb. 2021 – Charlotte’s Housing Roadmap details expansion housing

Charlotte has adopted a planning policy shift that will encourage more housing diversity through multifamily development.  Development of duplexes, triplexes and quads are part of a 20-year comprehensive plan that has drawn the ire of some in town.

Charlotte’s planning department created a 2040 comprehensive plan for the city council’s approval this spring.  Working with the council’s transportation, planning and environment committee, the extensive plan outlines 10 goals and related priorities for Charlotte in its next 20 years of growth. The committee is forthcoming with goals that are around equity and inclusion, siting past governmental policies that have contributed to disparate outcomes across Charlotte.

The committee was particularly focused on a change that would allow duplex and triplex housing units on all lots where single-family housing is allowed today. When affordable housing is prioritized, quads would be permitted on all lots fronting arterial roads where single-family housing is permitted. The new policy would allow for an expansion in the number of neighborhoods to allow multiunit dwellings.

Many are concerned Charlotte currently lacks middle-income housing, as the Queen City has had a dramatic decline in new duplex, triplex and quad construction since 2000.  Many feel the lack of housing diversity has contributed to affordable-housing challenges felt across Charlotte today.

By encouraging housing with two to four dwelling units to be developed in a greater number of places, development of moderate-income housing will likely result. This is a positive for both the rental or sales market. The 2040 plan and the UDO will directly inform place types, which will prescribe land use, design principles and features in specific areas of Charlotte.

Some members have expressed concerns the housing diversity policy will negatively impact character of neighborhoods and contribute to infrastructure and transportation challenges.  Infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with development, which causes concerns for additional density in some areas.

While some are a proponent of private development, if the 2040 plan is approved, city planners will have to look closely at infrastructure and transportation needs to invest in those projects and match that with areas of growth.

Assuming council adopts the 2040 plan in late April, place-type mapping would take place starting in May and community area planning and a citywide rezoning will occur into 2022.

Some councilors said Monday there’s inaccurate and wide-ranging perceptions about what more housing diversity will mean for Charlotte.

Showing images of duplexes, triples and quads — many of which are already in Charlotte neighborhoods, including heavily in Egleston’s district — might better convey what the city means by housing diversity, he said.

Opposition to the plan has expressed concerns of a large segment of Charlotte’s population, including the business community, are not represented in the 2040 plan. His district includes a significant amount of south Charlotte, a suburban area with lots of neighborhoods containing only single-family homes.

South Charlotte residents frequently seek to block moves by developers to seeking increased density, such as in rezoning cases. Neighborhood character is among the issues cited in projects that seek to add density in traditionally single-family neighborhoods.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, who chairs the planning committee feels people in Charlotte were never in a position to build wealth or were outright barred from buying homes in upper-income neighborhoods in years past.  She feels the addition of duplexes and quads will not impact the character of neighborhoods.

Private citizens are mobilizing to stop the increased density initiatives.  GoFundMe pages have been launched by neighborhood groups in affluent neighborhoods to oppose the density initiatives.  One group, the Charlotte Home Preservation Fund mentions the city’s potential elimination of single-family zoning as well as a lawsuit in Eastover over whether construction of an addition to a home on Cherokee Road violates setback rules laid out in a deed restriction. Several hundred people have since joined that suit because of potential implications from the ruling, according to the GoFundMe.

Homes in historic neighborhoods frequently have longtime restrictive covenants included in real estate deeds. Those documents can mandate a range of restrictions, such as setback requirements and what color a house can be painted. In the past, terms written into covenants in affluent neighborhoods, including in Charlotte, explicitly barred the lease or sale of a property to Black and brown people.

The Eastover GoFundMe is to help pay for legal expenses incurred by the party aiming to uphold setback requirements in the covenants which date back to the 1920s. But the fundraiser also mentions the 2040 plan and cites concerns that if the court upholds a previous decision to allow the Cherokee Road addition, that could open the door to duplex, triplex, quadplex, and apartment or condominium projects.

Supporters of the plan claim outreach for the 2040 plan has been robust and has included south Charlotte neighborhoods. Opposing members of the committee still feel the city has sidestepped some groups’ concerns while others are now realizing what ideas in the 2040 plan could mean for their neighborhoods and do not feel input has been taken into account in revisions to the draft document.

The public hearing will occur March 22, with a final vote to follow 1 month later.

Written by MY Home Leasing Realtor and Property Manager – Laura Grant