Walmart gets Charlotte City Council to consider zoning change
Businesses along Independence have long wanted to expand beyond boundaries the city imposed 20 years ago. Charlotte City Council is now looking at relaxing these rules, after Walmart says they make it impossible for it to build a store along the road.
Independence Boulevard has been slowly growing lanes. For the last 20 years, a zoning rule has blocked all construction within 175 feet of the middle of the road. The change could give property owners like Jim Cavalaris another 35 to 50 feet to work with. "That'll make it easier to develop the property with the appropriate amount of parking," says Cavalaris. He owns Coliseum Lanes, a bowling alley that closed two years ago.
Cavalaris now wants to lease the property or sell it and he says this change could make the lot more attractive. Cavalaris says Walmart could accomplish what he and other business owners have been pushing for for years. "It's part of the American way. The bigger retailers have more say and since the area is so depressed the city definitely would like to see something positive happen.
And so they have the attention of the city. Councilman John Lassiter heads the economic development committee. He says the city had already begun to take another look at Independence, but Walmart nudged the council into action. "It allowed us walking into this area plan process to accelerate our look at it and recognize that some of the things we had done as a city 20 years ago were really restricting our ability to do what we wanted today," says Lassiter.
A public hearing on the zoning change will be held at the city council meeting tonight. The council could vote on the measure as well.