After months of debate and public discussion, Charlotte’s City Council voted to approve a sweeping set of regulations that will govern development in the city for decades to come.
The Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO, passed by a vote of 6-4 in the final session before a new council is set to be sworn in on Sept. 6.
Most controversial among the UDO’s nearly 700 pages is a provision that will allow for densers housing to be built in traditionally single-family neighborhoods. This would include duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes.
Some council members who voted against the UDO said increased gentrification would be the inevitable result of allowing the larger, multifamily structures to be built in neighborhoods where homes traditionally have been smaller and more affordable.
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Supporters dismissed that claim, insisting that the UDO will modernize Charlotte’s zoning regulations.
The six council members who voted to approve the UDO were Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, Malcolm Graham, Braxton Winston, Larken Egleston, Greg Phipps and Dimple Ajmera.
Council members Victoria Watlington, Matt Newton, Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs cast the four dissenting votes.
One council member, Renee Johnson, was not present at the meeting and was not allowed to vote remotely.
A draft of the UDO was first made public in October, and since then it has undergone a number of revisions, some to accommodate public input or concerns raised by council members.
Monday’s passage of the UDO is meant to give regulatory teeth to the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which calls for equitable growth and development in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities – a city that has become increasingly unaffordable for low- and moderate-income families.
Graham, who represents some of the neighborhoods most likely to be impacted by the UDO, including historically Black neighborhoods along the Beatties Ford Road corridor, acknowledged the UDO’s shortcomings.
Still, he said, the document would put Charlotte on a “trajectory for change” as it relates to future growth and development.
The UDO will go into effect June 1, 2023.
In other council actions:
Naturally occurring affordable housing: Assistant to the City Manager Sawn Heath presented a proposal to use Peppertree Apartments as naturally-occurring affordable housing (NOAH) for a period of 20 years. The $55.8 million dollar project would receive investment from the city, county, and private funds. Out of 204 proposed one- and two-bedroom units, 88 will go to residents making 30% or below average median income (AMI), 146 for those making 60% or below and 58 for those making 80% AMI and below. Proposed rents will start at $390 and go up to $1295 a month.
Family Justice Center: Council unanimously voted to approve $5 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding to build The Umbrella Center, a multi-agency family justice center to serve survivors of abuse and their families. Mecklenburg County will also provide $10 million toward the Center.
Source of income protections: Council passed (9-1) an amendment to the source of income protections that establishes procedures for enforcement.
Social districts: Council quickly and unanimously voted to pass what was called the “first step in a two-step process” of allowing social districts in Charlotte. The second step will be to decide where the districts will be and how to keep residents safe.
Arts and Culture funding: Council members remained confused and displeased about the procedures surrounding Arts and Science Council’s development of a strategic plan. While they were unsure of how to move forward in making a policy vision together, the council voted (6-3) to authorize a contract for $6 million from the Foundation for the Carolinas.