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Charlotte Proposes 'Compromise' On Single-Family Zoning Rules In 2040 Plan

City of Charlotte
City Council member Larken Egleston said he believes the city needs to have more dense housing. But he's concerned that eliminating single-family zoning would accelerate gentrification in neighborhoods close to uptown.

Charlotte’s planning director, Taiwo Jaiyeoba, proposed Monday no longer allowing duplexes and triplexes to be built on any residential lot — a change that he said is a “compromise” meant to get City Council support for the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

The 2040 plan calls for eliminating zoning that only allows for single-family homes. By scrapping the zoning, developers would be able to build more dense housing.

Supporters say that will increase the amount of housing and make prices lower.

But some neighborhoods are pushing back. Some residents in affluent areas like Myers Park have said that eliminating single-family zoning would threaten the character of their neighborhoods. And residents in some lower-income neighborhoods have also expressed concern, saying that more duplexes and triplexes would accelerate gentrification.

At the start of Monday’s City Council transportation committee meeting, at-large council member Julie Eiselt said some changes must be made.

“This isn’t the first time this has come up,” Eiselt said. “Council members have been talking to each other, and we do know that we don’t have the votes to pass this as is.”

In response, Jaiyeoba proposed what he calls a “concession” to City Council.

Instead of allowing duplexes and triplexes on any residential lot, Jaiyeoiba said neighborhoods will decide where higher-density housing would be allowed.

That will be part of a new process the city is calling creating “place types.”

He said neighborhoods would be allowed to decide the type of building allowed in their community. Some might vote to allow more density, while others might reject it.

That “place-making” process would take place after council members pass what’s known as the unified development ordinance. The ordinance is meant to provide the details to the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

There are some neighborhoods that are already exempt through deed restrictions that only allow for single-family homes.

At-large member Braxton Winston is the most vocal supporter of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan on City Council. During Monday’s meeting, he encouraged his colleagues to support the plan.

Winston said there are “gaslights and the dog whistles that are being put out there” by people opposed to the plan.

That led two council members, Larken Egleston and Ed Driggs, to push back.

“I would just encourage him to consider that continuing to say that anybody who disagrees with anything he is saying is gaslighting, is throwing red meat at people, is being disingenuous or doesn’t understand what is going on will continue to prove an ineffective strategy to change anybody’s mind about any of this,” Egleston said.

Egleston said eliminating single-family zoning could accelerate gentrification in neighborhoods close to uptown.

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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.