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Council OKs Industrial Project Near I-85, Despite Neighbors' Concerns

111720 Keith Corp location map.jpg
Charlotte Planning, Design & Development
The Keith Corporation is proposing 1.5 million square feet of industrial space off I-85 in western Mecklenburg County. The area in yellow previously was zoned for residential use.

The Charlotte City Council on Monday night approved plans for an industrial development in western Mecklenburg County that's expected to bring 1,000 jobs. The council voted 7-4 in favor of plans by The Keith Corporation to build 1.5 million square feet of industrial space on about 150 acres near the intersection of I-85 and Moores Chapel Road.

The project has drawn concern from nearby residents over its environmental impact. Councilwoman Victoria Watlington was one of the ‘no’ votes. She compared the proposal to the urban renewal of the 1960s and 1970s.

City of Charlotte
City Council member Victoria Watlington

"We are sealing the fate of the residents who live here and have been purchasing homes based on the area plan and anticipating what the future of this area would look like," Watlington said. "And we are basically changing that ahead of the comprehensive plan in which they would have opportunity to give input."

In voting yes for the plan, council member Tariq Bokhari praised the site’s proximity to the intestate, airport and intermodal facility.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt also voted yes. She said the project addresses a need to bring jobs to the area that don’t require college degrees.

The city Zoning Committee had voted 7-0 to recommend the plan, though the committee acknowledged it was inconsistent with the Dixie Berryhill Strategic Plan. That plan had called for the site to be developed as single-family housing, with up to four units per acre.

But in its report to the council, the committee said the proposed change was "reasonable and in the public interest." Among other things, the committee said The Keith Corporation plan provides buffers between the industrial development and nearby neighborhoods, and it calls for road improvements to address traffic concerns.

The committee also said the location near I-85, Wilkinson Boulevard, and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is in a growth corridor and is "desirable for larger scale industrial development."

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