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Charlotte City Council Moves To Eliminate Zoning That Only Allows For Single-Family Homes

The City Council voted to keep a provision that would make it easier to build duplexes and triplexes in single-family neighborhoods.
City of Charlotte
Charlotte City Council voted to keep a provision that would make it easier to build duplexes and triplexes in single-family neighborhoods.

Charlotte City Council Monday took a large step toward eliminating zoning that only allows for single-family homes.

At the end of a seven-hour meeting, council members tentatively voted to keep the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan mostly the same as city staff had proposed. If the plan passes next month, it will be easier for developers to build triplexes and duplexes in neighborhoods without deed restrictions.

Supporters say it will increase the city’s housing supply and lower prices.

Council member Renee’ Johnson, however, wanted to keep single-family zoning.

“I think this has opened up the door and the floodgates for gentrification in neighborhoods like Hidden Valley and other vulnerable neighborhoods, so I voted no,” Johnson said.

A week ago, six council members — a narrow majority — voted to keep single-family-only zoning. That coalition was made up of four Democrats — Johnson, Victoria Watlington, Matt Newton and Greg Phipps — and Republicans Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs.

But during Monday night’s meeting, Phipps reversed his position and twice voted against compromises that would have allowed the traditional zoning to continue.

The first vote would have eliminated all language in the 2040 plan that referenced removing single-family zoning. That failed 5-6.

The second vote was a compromise proposed by Watlington. She proposed allowing single-family zoning to continue in some cases, though developers would be able to build duplexes on corner lots. Watlington said her proposal would give low-income neighborhoods the same protections that wealthier neighborhoods with deed restrictions also enjoy.

Phipps also voted against that, and it failed 5-6.

Phipps had previously been one of the council’s staunchest advocates for keeping single-family zoning. He didn’t explain the reason why he switched during the meeting.

The final vote on the zoning issue was 8-3 in favor of keeping the plan as staff wrote it. Watlington and Newton voted yes, along with Braxton Winston, Julie Eiselt, Malcolm Graham, Dimple Ajmera, Larken Egleston and Phipps.

Council members will take a final vote on the plan next month. Charlotte could become one of a few U.S. cities to scrap exclusively single-family zoning, along with Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon.

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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.