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More Than 100 Speak For And Against Charlotte's 2040 Development Plan

The City Council held a public hearing on the 2040 Plan Monday night.
City of Charlotte
The City Council held a public hearing on the 2040 Plan Monday night.

More than 100 people spoke Monday night for and against the Charlotte 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which is designed to guide how the city grows for the next two decades and beyond.

The plan calls for Charlotte to have neighborhoods where people can walk to stores in 10 minutes. It calls for more dense development near transit. And it has aspirational goals, like requiring developers to include affordable housing in new developments.

It would also eliminate zoning that only allows for single-family zoning. That’s the most controversial part of the plan.

Amar Johnson, president of the Seversville Community Organization, said “the time to act is now, not later.”

He said single-family zoning was used to segregate American cities.

“Anybody who doesn’t want to support this plan is essentially a segregationist,” he said. “They are trying to hide themselves behind racist laws and policies that will only further perpetuate systemic racism.”

That’s an argument City Council member Braxton Winston has made. But many other council members, like Victoria Watlington, have said the zoning can protect neighborhoods from gentrification.

Darlene Heater, the executive director of University City Partners, said the plan will help the city break from the past.

“For if we keep doing what we have always done, we will get what we’ve already got,” she said.

Removing the zoning wouldn’t impact lots or subdivisions with deed restrictions requiring single-family homes.

Dozens of opponents also spoke, like Tim Sittema of Crosland Southeast, a developer. He said removing single-family zoning will encourage the tearing down of older homes.

“This plan will make affordable housing less affordable,” he said. “This plan will accelerate gentrification and increase displacement of those in our community most at risk.”

Veronia Mobley lives near Harrisburg Road. She doesn’t believe the plan does enough for people who live on the outskirts of Charlotte. She said she and her neighbors “deserve to have safer, wider streets, well-lit streets, sidewalks for our children and family members, and proper transit systems and frequencies.”

Faced with rising opposition to the plan, Mayor Vi Lyles has postponed a City Council vote until June.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.