REBIC and our members have been closely engaged in the process of drafting the new TOD ordinance over the past 18 months, and the City planning staff, have incorporated many of our suggestions into the ordinance — from changes in maximum parking ratios to reduced open space requirements. And while we are pleased with many aspects of the TOD, we remain concerned that its limitations on building height could negatively impact economic development in Charlotte’s transit corridors.
The ordinance currently caps base height at a maximum of 130’ in the TOD-UC district, its most dense, and offers developers additional height in exchange for bonus points that advance other City objectives, like affordable housing, transportation improvements or energy efficiency. While we support each of these policy goals, we believe City Council should do everything possible to encourage density in our transit corridors, and not restrict itself from considering economic development opportunities that would otherwise be limited by the building height caps in each TOD district.
In a letter to Council and Planning Commission, we have asked for a modification in the ordinance to allow Maximum Height Restrictions to be modified through the use of the TOD-EX District. We believe this approach would give developers the opportunity to seek a rezoning through Council for projects that do not meet the building height limitations or a particular TOD district, while ensuring the community has a voice in the rezoning process.
This modification would ensure that unique development projects have a pathway to approval outside the by-right approval process outlined in the ordinance. Without this option, we fear certain projects may build outside the transit corridors, where infrastructure is less able to accommodate the density, or not move forward at all.
Some of the other changes REBIC worked to secure in the revised TOD draft include:
Additional Bonus Menu Options: More incentives for the inclusion of affordable housing units, including a horizontal density bonus through open space reductions and building length, and the addition of several environmental items.
Open Space Changes: Calculations regarding open space are revised and include an easier calculation of the amount required and revised standards to when public open space is required.
Public Realm Standards: Provides clarification on language regarding streetscape and future back of curb measurements, based on varying street types and a planned citywide street map.
Revised Townhome Language: Clarifies that townhomes are not subject to the ordinance’s aesthetic requirements, reduces open space requirement.
The public hearing for the TOD Ordinance is Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. If you would like to sign up to speak please do so here: https://charlottenc.gov/CityClerk/Pages/Speak.aspx
Planning staff yesterday also released an Economic Impact Report on the TOD, which is available here.
You can find extensive background on the TOD ordinance, including previous drafts, at the City website: www.charlotteudo.org.