The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission continued its discussions this week about how to improve the city’s zoning ordinance and entitlement process, offering a preview of the broader debate that lies ahead regarding land use and growth.
At its monthly work session Monday afternoon, the Planning Commission heard from a panel of community stakeholders about what worked – and what could be improved – with the city’s zoning ordinance. The panel included developers Jim Merrifield and Darrel Williams, zoning attorney John Carmichael, REBIC executive director Joe Padilla, University City Partners planning director Tobe Holmes, and neighborhood representative Darrell Bonapart.
The panelists all agreed the current ordinance could be improved upon, but differed in how extensive the overhaul needed to be. Some panelists cautioned that a form-based code, which has been widely discussed as one option for the city to pursue, may actually give council members less control over rezoning cases than they have today, and require a level of community buy-in that would be hard to achieve.
Members of the panel also raised concerns over the proposed schedule for developing the zoning ordinance, which would begin with a six-month internal process in which staff and elected officials would agree upon a policy foundation from which the draft ordinance would flow. Panelists all agreed that a well-defined stakeholder engagement process was critical at this initial stage, and encouraged the Planning Commission to make sure the right organizations were at the table as the initiative got underway.
City staff is already holding a series of community workshops to get feedback on ‘Place Types,’ giving residents and stakeholders the chance to describe what types of places they want the City to promote through its development policies. A website has also been established for anyone interested in following the zoning ordinance rewrite, at www.charlotteudo.org. The website includes the overview presentation that staff has been making to City Council and Planning Commission, outlining its vision for the rewrite effort.