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Housing Groups Urge Council To Pass Comprehensive Plan As Is

The 2040 Plan calls for allowing duplex, triplex, and quadruplex houses like this one in the Wesley Heights neighborhood in single family neighborhoods.
City of Charlotte
The 2040 Plan calls for allowing duplex, triplex, and quadruplex houses like this one in the Wesley Heights neighborhood in single family neighborhoods.

Updated Friday, April 30, at 5:20 p.m.

Leaders of Charlotte's major housing and social service nonprofits and some neighborhoods are speaking out in favor of the city's proposed 2040 Comprehensive Plan. They say it will expand affordable housing and correct past inequities.

The 2040 Plan has faced criticism from some developers and residents since it was introduced last fall. They're concerned that the vision for future development in Charlotte would threaten the character of neighborhoods, especially because of a proposal to allow multifamily housing in areas currently zoned single-family only.

This new coalition, Neighbors for More Neighbors CLT, is pushing back. While city leaders are suggesting compromises are possible, the group likes the plan as is. Julie Porter is a coalition member and president of DreamKey Partners, an affordable housing developer.

DreamKey Partners
Julie Porter, President of DreamKey Partners (formerly Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership)

"We certainly think that the plan should pass as it is currently written, and certainly in the spirit of how it is currently written. We would not want to see major compromises on some of the critical elements," said Porter.

Porter said that as a developer, she doesn't agree that greater density would damage housing values, especially since Charlotte's growth shows no signs of slowing.

"Our history has demonstrated that that has not happened," Porter said. "Charlotte is a strong market. I think that property values are not going to stop going up. I don't think it will hurt property values. There has been no study that I have seen that in strong markets that have lots of duplexes and triplexes that that has happened."

Meanwhile, Porter said the 2040 Plan also addresses historical inequities, such as redlining or other laws and regulations that benefitted white people over people of color.

"What I like about the plan is that it faced that past and acknowledged it. What this plan does is provide a vision for how it could be different, how we can be a more diverse and equitable city," Porter said.

Kathryn Firmin-Sellers, chief impact officer at the United Way of Central Carolinas said: “Approving the plan presents an opportunity to address policies and practices that created neighborhoods in which residents lacked equitable access. The plan is grounded in advancing equal access to housing, a key component to any effort to promote greater social and economic mobility.”

The coalition includes leaders from Crisis Assistance Ministries, the United Way, the Urban League, Habitat for Humanity, and Local Initiative Support Corp. (LISC). It also includes neighborhood groups from north and west Charlotte.

As of Thursday afternoon, 66 community leaders had signed an open letter calling on the city council to approve the 2040 Comprehensive Plan in June.

Porter said supporters have lacked a cohesive voice. "There were a lot of detractors coming at it from different viewpoints. But there are a lot of supporters of the plan, and (we) just didn't feel like that voice was being heard," she said.

Their announcement comes as the city readies for another round of meetings on the plan over the next two weeks.

Read the open letter

Corrected: April 30, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
The main photo to this story was updated to avoid unintentionally misleading readers that the 2040 Comprehensive Plan would allow apartment buildings next to single-family homes. The 2040 Plan addresses smaller multi-family homes such as duplexes, triplexes and quadruplexes.
David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.