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Real Estate Industry Campaign Targets Charlotte's 2040 Plan

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Lets Get It Right Charlotte campaign (via YouTube)
A video ad for the real estate and business campaign "Let's Get It Right, Charlotte"

Charlotte real estate industry leaders have begun a campaign that includes digital ads and radio spots calling on city leaders to slow consideration of the city's proposed 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

The Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition, or REBIC, is behind the campaign titled "Let's Get It Right, Charlotte." A spokesperson said they're spending "close to six figures" to spread their view that the plan in its current form could raise housing costs and taxes, increase regulations on builders and hurt Charlotte's economy.

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David Boraks
Handouts from the Charlotte 2040 Comprehensive Plan kickoff in October 2020.

The group wants the City Council to take more time to revise the 2040 plan, which is a vision for how the city will grow in the next 20 years.

"Well-intended ideas," said Rick Judson, a coalition member and longtime Charlotte builder. "But I think there's some work yet to be done on the unintended consequences with this."

Judson says he thinks city officials need to reconsider key parts of the plan.

"It's a wish list, and it's a good wish list," he said of the plan. "But sometimes you just can't get all the wishes without some sort of compromise."

The group argues that the plan introduced last fall during the pandemic has been considered too hastily.

One of three 30-second digital video ads opens this way: "As Charlotte starts to recover from COVID, the last thing we need is a new comprehensive plan that hurts our economy. With more rules and complicated regulations, the new comprehensive plan will damage small businesses and job creators just as they're getting back on their feet."

The group also says the plan fails to say how new requirements would affect taxpayers. And it says new regulations could make housing more expensive and affect the city's "unique identity and character."

The 2040 plan does say some aspects of future growth — such as roads, transit and schools — may require new funding mechanisms. It suggests studying things like improvement districts and impact fees on new development.

The REBIC-led campaign comes after "extensive polling" that the group says showed that many people are unfamiliar with the plan, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The real estate group is one of several groups from different sectors and neighborhoods that are pushing the City Council for changes. A group called the Community Benefits Coalition wants to make sure the plan includes community benefits agreements, private contracts between developers and neighborhoods that spell how existing residents will benefit from growth.

However, on April 29, Neighbors for More Neighbors CLT, a group of affordable housing developers and social service nonprofits, urged the council to pass the plan as is.

At least some changes to the 2040 plan are likely. In a preliminary vote Monday night, the City Council opted to abandon one section of the plan that would have allowed duplexes and triplexes in areas currently zoned for single-family only.

A final vote is expected in June.

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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.