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Changes seem unlikely for controversial duplex, triplex rules in Charlotte

Could duplexes like this one in the Chantilly neighborhood be common under the 2040 Comprehensive Plan?
Jodie Valade
Could duplexes like this one in the Chantilly neighborhood be common under the 2040 Comprehensive Plan?

It doesn’t appear the Charlotte City Council will make any significant changes to a controversial policy that makes it easier to build duplexes and triplexes in neighborhoods that were once reserved for single-family homes.

Last year, the City Council overturned a long-standing zoning category that designated most neighborhoods only for single-family homes. The change is part of the city’s new Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO, which went into effect this month.

It’s meant to ease Charlotte’s tight housing market by making it easier for developers to build more types of housing — especially duplexes and triplexes. Last month, council members narrowly voted to revisit the issue.

But Ed Driggs, who chairs the city council’s transportation, planning and development committee, said Monday he doesn’t want to relitigate that policy.

"So the distinction I am trying to make is that we are not going to go back on some of the issues that were debated hotly at the time of the UDO adoption and change the outcome," said Driggs.

Driggs supported preserving single-family zoning and had voted against the UDO in 2022. But on Monday he emphasized that he considers it a done deal.

"There will not be a zoning category limited to single-family, which was a critical feature, a controversial feature," he said.

City staff proposed a change saying that neighborhoods could not consist entirely of duplexes and triplexes. The committee backed that idea. But some council members like LaWana Mayfield said they’re still concerned about more density.

"Yeah, we need density. But to be perfectly honest, as someone who moved to Charlotte back in '88, I'm not interested in Charlotte looking like D.C. and Seattle and Chicago where you literally have no room to walk down between the houses," Mayfield said.

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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.