The Charlotte City Council voted 7-5 Monday to approve a rezoning of about 6 acres on Randolph Road for a residential project from Greystar focused on senior living.
The plot is owned by trustees for the Scottish Rite Bodies of Charlotte and the A. Ray Mathis Revocable Living Trust. The rezoning changed the land from R-3 and R-8MF(CD) residential zonings to UR-2(CD) urban residential conditional zoning with five-year vested rights.
The request drew some criticism from Councilman Kenny Smith, who said he felt the proposed density of 26.28 units per acre was too high for the surrounding neighborhood.
Smith said he appreciated that Greystar worked with the city and neighbors to make changes to the project.
But he was unmoved by the developer’s concessions.
The project was changed from four-story buildings to three-story buildings, the maximum heights of which were lowered to 40 feet from 50 feet, after Greystar representatives met with neighborhood groups and agreed to shrink all three structures.
“I would have been comfortable with a density closer to that of the neighborhoods in this corridor,” Smith said. “I could have supported 22 units an acre, but not 26.”
The land’s previous zoning allowed density of about 7 units per acre.
Councilman Ed Driggs voiced support for the rezoning, and said he felt the development would not be out of place on Randolph Road.
“The senior living aspect speaks for it, and I visited the site and it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable intrusion into the adjoining neighborhoods,” Driggs said.
Driggs then took a moment to speak about issues he has with the process used by the city to deal with developers in their rezoning requests.
“The biggest problem we have is that we don’t have reference standards,” Driggs said. “A developer starts down a path and then, based on issues we see, we either say yes or no. I think we need a better environment for communicating where we are going to come out on these things.”
To defend his approval, Driggs pointed out that city staff recommended approving the request and the city zoning committee voted 5-0 to recommend approving the request.
But Smith was undeterred.
“To Mr. Driggs’ point, if the staff and zoning committee approval meant everything was fine, there would be no need for projects to come to the full council,” Smith replied.
Councilwoman Claire Fallon echoed some of Smith’s density concerns, but in the end voted to approve the rezoning.
“The density…is mitigated by the fact that it is seniors living there, for me,” she said.
The proposal included plans to build up to 158 age-restricted multifamily units that will each have at least one resident who is age 55 or older.
According to city records of previous public hearings on the project, some neighbors expressed concerns about traffic congestion generated by the new buildings. Current traffic levels for the area show it generates about 200 trips per day. City staff projected about 540 trips per day from the new project.
As a result, Greystar representatives agreed to focus on improving walkability in the project and added a 10-foot, multiuse path along the property frontage for walking and biking.
In other business, the city council approved a voluntary annexation request for 17.69 acres at the west end of Starnes Road, east of Interstate 485.
The property is owned by LGI Homes, but is vacant. LGI plans to develop the property to create 85 units in a series of four-plex buildings.