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Is City Council Showing Signs of Standing Up to Developers?


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I know I know... The City Council is evil and they always cave into developers and they are ruining the city. We have all heard it before. However something happened last night at the Council meeting that really got my attention.

I was watching the Zoning Meeting on Monday and they were discussing Petition 2008-30. It seemed on the surface to be a standard Rezoning to allow for a new 200 unit Apartment Complex at the Intersection of 485 and N Tryon in the University Area. This Rezoning was consistent with the Northeast Area Plan and both the Planning Staff and Zoning Cmte unanimously supported the Rezoning.

However this petition ended up being defeated by the City Council along party lines. The Dems voted it down. The reason cited was that the elementary school for this project was at 150% of capacity. It was estimated this project would add 25 students to that school. The Dems opinion was that City Council didnt need to be adding residential development in this school's district until a new elementary school is built in a couple years.

Well this started a debate between Councilman Lassiter and Councilman Barnes. Lassiter said that this smelled of a moratorium and he would not support a residential building moratorium in Charlotte. Councilman Barnes who is the district rep for the Univeristy Area said that school overcrowding was a serious problem and even just adding 25 students to this school was not acceptable.

Of course the Mayor had to get in on the debate...after it was already voted down he asked the City Manager to "investigate" the City's planned affordable housing projects for the area and that if the Council wanted to do a moratorium for this area it would have to include affordable housing as well. This was a pure political play by the Mayor to "get back" at the Dems for voting this Rezoning down. Of course he doesnt have the power to make any changes in affordable housing...or really anything that Charlotte does....but he likes to make it sound like he can.

So this was just 1 Rezoning...but could it signal a change in development for Charlotte?

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Sadly, even this is just school politics and not really the council standing up to support better design or better land use. I do are them trying to support better connectivity occasionally, but I think it is obvious that even some good city council members are in the pocket of the development community to support sprawl.

I guess we will have to see if this is a trend or a fluke, but I wish they had chosen a starter home community rather than an apartment community to make this stand.

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It's odd that this would be the one rezoning that this kind of outcome occurs....not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the fact that the vote went down party lines sounds like this was a favor done that is expected to be reciprocated.

I usually like Lassiter, but in this case, I wish the word moratorium didn't scare him. This is exactly what should be in enacted in fringe areas.

Ultimately, I think this was a one-off due to a political favor, and is not an indication of future trends. I'm deeply cynical, but have seen a lot worse get passed with much greater resistance from staff and the public.

All that said, it would be great if the city would grow a back-bone and deny petitions that didn't pass a very high bar. And short of a moratorium, I would support impact fees levied on this type of green-field development.

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It should be noted the school system is operated by the county government. My take on this is that some sort of politics was being played here and CMS used as the excuse to justify it. From the description it doesn't sound like the city government has had a fundamental change in the way it views sprawling development. (they love it)

If anything however it does highlight why the citizens of this state need to avoid voting for McCroy for governor,

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