City Council approves Conservation Development UDO amendment

Conservation development standards

Charlotte City Council met Monday evening for its monthly zoning meeting. We were particularly interested in the discussion about proposed changes to conservation residential development standards in the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). 

A conservation residential development permits a reduction in minimum lot size in exchange for the conservation of green area and common open space beyond the requirements of the UDO. The purpose of the conservation residential development standards is to protect open space and natural resources in order to enhance surface water quality, maintain and enhance the tree canopy, protect natural areas, and provide useable common open space for residents.

The UDO amendment would increase the quality and quantity of open space requirements, addressing concerns that developers have been skirting the intent of the ordinance, parsing green space throughout the development, rather than large, accessible common open areas that would benefit the community. The adjustments would also improve transitions to adjacent parcels and require lots to face public streets or open space, not private streets or alleys. 

Conservation development standards

Council member discussion

The text amendment was passed 10-1 after a lengthy discussion by the council. The majority of council members supported the amendment. 

Council member Bokhari said he supports closing that loophole but moved to defer the changes proposed Monday night because there are complexities that will lead to gridlock for developers. The zoning committee had also voted to defer. 

Council member Molina mentioned she could understand why Bokhari asked for the deferment, but ultimately she supported the staff’s recommendation. 

Council approved those changes rather than defer the proposal.

Conservation development standards

Our take: 

This text amendment was necessary to improve the quality of new neighborhood subdivisions and reduce long-term liability costs for future residents. We have been collaborating with planning staff as part of the UDO Advisory Committee (UAC) and our partner coalition, Neighbors for More Neighbors Charlotte. Our goal is to protect genuinely affordable housing from any negative impact caused by these text amendments while also ensuring that we promote growth in areas with existing infrastructure or where we can develop it in the future.

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