City Council discusses zoning update

The City of Charlotte is about to embark upon an extensive review and update to its Zoning Ordinance and Policy. At today’s (August 10) Transportation and Planning Committee meeting, Planning Department staff talked about the upcoming process and gave committee members a chance to discuss their concerns and ideas.

One of the key recommendations for the update process is to strengthen the linkage between vision plans and implementation tools in order to build the type of people-oriented places that will be desirable to current and future residents. The process will include significant external stakeholder engagement. A public engagement strategy will be part of the consultant’s scope of work.

The Centers, Corridors and Wedges Growth Framework guides Charlotte's growth & development.

The Centers, Corridors and Wedges Growth Framework guides Charlotte’s growth & development.

The Planning Department selected Chicago-based Camiros, Ltd as the project consultant, pending approval by City Council in a late September vote. Planning Department staff were impressed with Camiros’ strong public engagement process. Council Member David Howard asked if Camiros leans more heavily toward form-based codes or conventional zoning. Planning Department staff replied that Camiros is very flexible and can take a ‘hybrid’ approach depending on the city’s needs. CM Howard said he encourages the consultant to educate Council on form-based codes. He also said, “I’m impressed that they understand that the first step is finding out what kind of places we’re trying to create and connecting that to the type of ordinance we need.” CM Patsy Kinsey voiced opposition to a solely form-based code and said that infill development is destroying the character of some of Charlotte’s older neighborhoods.

CM Vi Lyles commented, “We need to have accommodation for growth, and have the density that people want when they move here.” She emphasized the importance of connectivity being considered early in the process, as well as consideration of providing more transportation choices including opportunities to bike and walk.

CM Kenny Smith expressed concern over government requiring businesses to install bike racks and questioned why the Lowe’s in South End should have to provide bike racks, citing the example that most Lowe’s customers would be buying more than a few screws or small items. But we disagree. Not every trip to a home improvement store requires a vehicle. Customers deserve to know that they’ll have a secure place to lock their bike while patronizing any business in Charlotte. As our population continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to provide infrastructure that allows people to choose to travel by bike, on foot, or by transit. CM Howard said, “You can bike to a job at Lowe’s.” We agree with CM Howard that both employees and customers could use a bike rack.

Assistant City Manager Debra Campbell said we should “think about the desires and needs of future generations. We could take a snapshot of where we are now [as if Charlotte will not change], or we could respond to those needs in a way that’s aspirational, even compassionate. We need to define what we want to become.”

Sustain Charlotte will closely follow the zoning ordinance and policy update process and will share opportunities for public engagement. We are hopeful that City Council and the Planning Department will take advantage of this extensive process to create tools that will help us become a more sustainable city by focusing growth in Charlotte’s centers and corridors, while also improving connectivity to (and within) wedges.

What’s next? City Council will be briefed on the process on August 24. They will vote on approval of the recommended contractor in late September.

The next City Council Transportation and Planning Committee meeting will be held on September 14 at 3pm. Click here to see the full schedule and meeting location.

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