Charlotte’s real estate community often cites three ordinances accused of making developing sites cumbersome and costly: the Urban Street Design Guidelines, the Post Construction Controls ordinance and the tree ordinance.
Residential design standards for single-family homes in the city have also been controversial among industry officials.
Below is a look at the ordinances and a breakdown of how City Council members who are seeking re-election voted.
Urban Street Design Guidelines
The council passed these Oct. 22, 2007, in an 8-3 vote. Mayor Anthony Foxx, who was a councilman at the time, voted in favor.
The guidelines pitted the real estate industry, which was concerned about added costs of development, against the city’s planning staff and those who wanted increased connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The requirements for stub, or dead-end, streets and shorter block lengths were among sticking points for developers.
Initially, the USDG was simply guidelines. But the council made them part of the city’s zoning laws in a 6-2 vote Dec. 20.
HOW THEY VOTED
Oct. 22, 2007
AYE: Michael Barnes, Anthony Foxx, Patsy Kinsey and James Mitchell
NAY: Andy Dulin
Dec. 20, 2010
AYE: Michael Barnes, David Howard, James Mitchell, Edwin Peacock and Warren Turner
NAY: Warren Cooksey and Andy Dulin
Post Construction Controls ordinance
On Nov. 26, 2007, the council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, which focuses on stormwater control and quality.
It has tougher restrictions than those required by federal mandates. For one, the ordinance’s buffer requirements between a stream and commercial or residential development can vary from 30 to 100 feet, depending on the location. Federal law only requires a 30-foot buffer. It also established the city’s first stormwater controls for single-family construction sites.
This year, on Oct. 10, the council approved a revision allowing developers to pay a mitigation fee of $60,000 to $90,000 an acre in lieu of installing stormwater devices if they are redeveloping a site in the city. That was considered a big win by the real estate industry.
The council also approved at the same meeting another revision to the PCCO, removing a tree-save requirement that was duplicative of the tree ordinance. Foxx asked the council to reconsider, and Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon switched from an aye to a nay vote.
Still, the measure passed again, prompting Foxx, who’s serving his first term, to issue his first veto ever. Minutes later, he rescinded it when the council referred the matter to its environment committee.
HOW THEY VOTED
Nov. 26, 2007
AYE: Michael Barnes, Andy Dulin, Anthony Foxx and Patsy Kinsey
Oct. 10, 2011, mitigation fee vote
AYE: Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon, Warren Cooksey, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey and Edwin Peacock
NAY: Andy Dulin, James Mitchell and Warren Turner
Oct. 10, 2011, tree-save second vote
AYE: Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey and James Mitchell
NAY: Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon, Edwin Peacock and Warren Turner
Oct. 10, 2011, send it to environment committee vote
AYE: Patrick Cannon, Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey and James Mitchell
NAY: Michael Barnes, Edwin Peacock and Warren Turner
On Sept. 27, 2010, the council approved revisions to the ordinance in an 8-3 vote.
The ordinance requires developers to preserve a minimum of 15 percent of trees in commercial projects, with the option of an “in-lieu” payment if trees cannot be saved.
Advocates for affordable housing argued it would increase construction costs for multifamily developments and raise the cost of housing in the city.
On Oct. 17, 2011, the council unanimously approved a change to the ordinance, removing an incentive that allowed developers of single-family homes in residential districts R3-R8 to reduce the minimum side yard requirement from 5 feet to 3 feet if the residence met the city’s tree ordinance or the city’s Surface Water Improvement & Management initiative.
City staff cited privacy and safety concerns as reasons for the change, but developers say increasing the side yard reduces the size of the houses they can build.
HOW THEY VOTED
Sept 27, 2010
AYE: Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey, James Mitchell and Edwin Peacock
NAY: Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin and Warren Turner
Oct. 17, 2011
AYE: Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon, Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey, James Mitchell and Edwin Peacock
Residential design standards, Phase I
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department has proposed residential design standards for single-family homes.
While the most controversial requirements — namely, restrictions on garage design and blank walls — likely won’t come up for a vote by the council until next year, the council passed the first phase Oct. 17.
In that vote, the council approved restricting lots created after Dec. 31 from having major overhead public utility structures. But the new rules allow for the construction of breezeways in rear or side yards and include provisions for setback flexibility for infill development and streetscape design flexibility in the urban residential zoning district.
Discussion on the proposed second phase will begin later this year.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Daniel Clodfelter, a Charlotte Democrat, has won Senate approval for legislation to ban regulations that dictate what new homes can look like. The bill must receive approval from the House before becoming state law.
HOW THEY VOTED
Oct. 17, 2011
AYE: Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon, Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey, James Mitchell, Edwin Peacock and Warren Turner
Ramsey can be reached at email@example.com.