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In An Unusual Dispute, Two Charlotte Leaders At Odds Over 2040 Plan

City of Charlotte
City Council will vote on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan this month.

After weeks of fighting over single-family zoning among City Council members, a new dispute has broken out between two high-level Charlotte officials over the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

The city's economic development director, Tracy Dodson, sent a memo Thursday to Taiwo Jaiyeoba, the planning director and architect of the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan. She said the city should remove from the plan a call for “community benefits agreements.”

City of Charlotte
Tracy Dodson

Generally, a community benefits agreement — or CBA — is a contract between a developer and nearby residents. But so far, there are no specifics about how a CBA would work under Charlotte’s plan. It could mean more money for affordable housing or open space for a park.

Developers may need to provide some sort of "community benefit" for any building 30 stories uptown — or 20 stories in any other part of the city.

Dodson specifically questioned the need for the agreements in the center city. She said Charlotte “should be encouraging ways to increase tax revenue rather than one-time extractions from developers.”

Dodson couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. Rob Nanfelt of the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition said the 2040 plan discourages density uptown.

“That’s something that we were concerned about because it doesn’t seem like it makes a lot of sense to disincentivize building towers in uptown,” Nanfelt said.

Jaiyeoba wrote back that his staff met with Dodson’s economic development team on several occasions this year and last year, and that “at no point did you or staff object to the plan.”

Taiwo Jaiyeoba
Taiwo Jaiyeoba

As for the issue of calling for community agreements for super-tall uptown skyscrapers, Jaiyeoba said that a majority of City Council members support that. He said the CBAs won’t discourage development and that other cities like Austin, Texas, and Seattle have them.

Shannon Binns of Sustain Charlotte supports the 2040 plan. He said that he was disappointed that, in his view, Dodson was speaking for the development community and not Charlotte overall. Dodson is a former executive with the developer Lincoln Harris.

Binns said Dodson’s memo “may be of benefit to a special interest group but it’s not a benefit to Charlotte overall. We should have expected this, right? Those in power making money in Charlotte have had their way for so long. They are used to being able to control policy. This plan proposes some pretty drastic changes.”

Last month, City Council supported part of the 2040 plan that would eliminate single-family-only zoning. Supporters of that proposal say it will make it easier for developers to build duplexes and triplexes and create more places for people to live.

City Council is scheduled to take a final vote on the plan June 21.

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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.