Creating a city-wide vision for Charlotte

Our October Grow Smart CLT event started with some disappointing news. The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), which Charlotte’s Planning Director, Taiwo Jaiyeoba, had promised would be revamped by June of 2020, won’t actually be finished by then. But there’s a good excuse.

Sustain Charlotte's Grow SmartCLT event "Charlotte's 2040 Vision", at Free Range Brewing.

Sustain Charlotte’s Grow SmartCLT event “Charlotte’s 2040 Vision”, at Free Range Brewing.

Taiwo, who had previously spoken at our February Grow Smart CLT about the plans to update Charlotte’s development code, was our presenter for the evening. Since February, the City has realized it’s tough to redesign development codes when you don’t have a guiding document to steer the direction. A Comprehensive Plan is the policy that sets direction for a city, laying out the vision of what that city wants to work towards and become. It can serve as a touchstone when specific development rules are being created (such as in the UDO), ensuring that those rules are moving the city along the correct path.

Because a Comprehensive Plan serves such a large and important role in city planning, it’s hard to believe that Charlotte hasn’t had one since 1977 (and that one laid out a vision for our city in 1995). That’s why we’re so excited that Taiwo has decided to focus first on developing a vision and Comprehensive Plan, then come back to the UDO redesign. He spoke about the Comprehensive Plan, called Charlotte Future 2040, at our event.

Having a document that lays out the guiding vision and values for our community will allow us to consider that vision in all decisions moving forward. In order to create a Charlotte Future 2040 plan that is right for all residents, we need to think about:

  • How do we enhance our city’s growth without the burden of that growth falling on just one segment of our community?
  • What things will make people want to stay? We have lots of people moving here right now, but what will make this home for them?
  • How do we ensure that equity is the thread weaving through all of our community decisions and vision?
  • How can we make sure all voices of our community are present when developing this vision?
Grow smart participant speaking

Sustain Charlotte’s Grow SmartCLT event “Charlotte’s 2040 Vision”, at Free Range Brewing.

After sharing information on the upcoming process for gathering public input on the Charlotte Future 2040 plan, Taiwo took questions from the audience. Questions ranged from asking about the timeline for plan completion to inquiries about the inclusion of the 6 towns surrounding Charlotte and the rest of Mecklenburg County. Taiwo said the goal is to deliver the plan to the full Charlotte City Council in the fall of 2020, and assured audience members that this plan will not ignore that Charlotte is in Mecklenburg County. The City of Charlotte oversees planning for the County, so it will be inclusive of that. Charlotte’s Planning Department is also working closely with the County to update its Strategic Plans, so that they will align with this vision. He also said that this public input process is a chance for community members to begin expressing their thoughts about development, as well as values for their neighborhoods.

Grow smart audience attendees

Sustain Charlotte’s Grow SmartCLT event “Charlotte’s 2040 Vision”, at Free Range Brewing.

Sustain Charlotte sits on the UDO Advisory Council that was created to inform the UDO redesign process. That body is currently focused specifically on drafting a new Transit-Oriented Development District, which will guide development along transit corridors, and which will serve as a model for the rest of the UDO redesign, once the Comprehensive Plan is in place. We are and will continue to be focused on informing and engaging the public on the creation of the Charlotte Future 2040 plan, particularly on ensuring that public engagement is equitable across our city. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting process!

Weren’t able to make it to the event? Check out the photos here. Photos by Grant Baldwin Photography.

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