Smart Growth

Mar 30, 2015
Depending on how they're built, our communities can make us lean, strong and happy – or overweight and depressed. That's the message public health expert Richard Jackson brings to UNC Charlotte Center City in a free event April 8. A Q-and-A interview.
Feb 18, 2015
After three years of citizen engagement, which led to a Regional Growth Framework for the Charlotte region, the CONNECT Our Future initiative moves into implementation, including a set of 31 quality-of-life indicators, now available online.
Sep 17, 2014
By 2050, residents in the Charlotte region would prefer to see more rural areas preserved, less suburban development and more areas that blend housing, stores and offices.
May 28, 2014
On Charlotte's least pedestrian- and bike-friendly type of street - a parkway - a new asphalt trail is open, connecting UNC Charlotte to apartments along University City Boulevard. It's part of the city's ongoing bike-ped enhancements. (Photo: Chuck McShane)
May 21, 2014
The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia area ranks 10th most dangerous metro for pedestrians, according to a study, Dangerous by Design, released this week by the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
May 16, 2014
Transit advocate Benjamin Ross wondered why so many suburbanites fight development. After researching the founding values of U.S. suburbia he concludes it's based on status-seeking. He'll speak this evening at UNC Charlotte.
Apr 16, 2014
When you list the many people in Charlotte who've been prodding the city and region to grow in a more urban way, UNC Charlotte's David Walters should be among those at the top of that list. Next month, he'll retire from teaching. (Photo courtesy David Walters)
Oct 23, 2013
Today (Oct. 24) is the last chance for members of the public in Mecklenburg County to add their voices to a series of workshops that are part of a Charlotte-region-wide effort to chart a future for ourselves. Commentary. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Oct 10, 2013
A key city advisory committee has put off its recommendation on a proposed rezoning for a large car lot near a planned light rail station in University City. The deferral postpones City Council action to December – and a newly elected council. (Photo: Martin Zimmerman)
Sep 16, 2013
Charlotte-area residents will have an additional opportunity to voice their opinion on the region’s growth. A fourth Mecklenburg County workshop will be held Oct. 24 at Freedom Park as part of the  “CONNECT Our Future” planning program. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Sep 13, 2013
A University City-area rezoning petition up for a public hearing Monday raises serious questions about whether the city can stand behind its plans for transit-friendly development along the proposed Blue Line Extension light rail line. (Photo: Martin Zimmerman)
Aug 21, 2013
Charlotte area planning and sustainability enthusiasts can have their say about the future of the region in coming weeks by getting involved in two long-range regional planning efforts.
Aug 13, 2013
Last month, consultants for the City of Charlotte delivered their assessment of the city’s zoning ordinance. The study came in two parts – an Assessment Report and an Approach Report. Like the two parts of the report, after reading it I had two reactions: encouraged, and anxious to see more meaningful action. Commentary. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jul 30, 2013
Development patterns along Charlotte's Blue Line show a mixed bag of more low-density neighborhoods than planners recommend. That means the corridor is brimming with opportunity to develop more intensely, and in a way that puts walkable, diverse urban neighborhoods near transit. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
Jul 24, 2013
Charlotte’s zoning ordinance sometimes gets in the way of carrying out adopted plans, a consultant’s report concludes. It also can be confusing, with occasionally contradictory requirements. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jul 18, 2013
The question is widely debated among experts and in the press. Do surveys showing more preference for walkable, in-town neighborhoods measure a fleeting fad, or portend the end of suburbia? A UNC Charlotte geographer looks deeper. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jun 14, 2013
You’d think I would have known better. I’ve been writing about growth since before they called it Smart Growth. That’s why last week’s regional planning exercise made for an eye-opening glimpse of the real world. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
Jun 05, 2013
How can the Charlotte region prepare for the thousands of new jobs and houses expected to come here? RealityCheck2050, part of the CONNECT process, let regional participants develop their own versions of the future. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
May 31, 2013
Aided by a $5 million federal grant, residents and businesses throughout the 14-county Charlotte region are engaged in a process to envision the region's best future and create a roadmap for getting there. This interactive article describes the process, plans and players for CONNECT Our Future. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
May 15, 2013
How can cities and towns grow in ways that meet market demand, are fiscally sound, and improve their quality of life? A lecture, reported on Twitter. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)  
May 08, 2013
How can Charlotte boost its neighborhoods? What national trends are changing city development? How do different development patterns affect the need for city spending? Those topics will be part of a public lecture sponsored by PlanCharlotte.org, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at UNC Charlotte’s center city campus. (Photo: Ayrsley development in southwest Charlotte, Bing maps)
Apr 09, 2013
A new study of access to jobs via automobile, across the United States, ranks the Charlotte metro area near the bottom. Unlike simple congestion studies, this one looks at land use as well as the transportation system.  
Mar 07, 2013
Concord's Union Street, downtown Belmont and Charlotte's First Ward and Plaza Midwood neighborhoods have all been nominated for "People's Choice" awards in this year's "Great Places in North Carolina" contest. North Carolinians can vote until March 15. (Graphic: APA-NC)
Feb 18, 2013
Brightwalk is unique among Charlotte’s new developments, and not just for its size and location –1,000 homes on 98 acres 2 miles from uptown. What also sets Brightwalk apart is that it will make environmental art a central part of the neighborhood. (Don’t know what environmental art is? We have an article and photos that explain it.)
Jan 15, 2013
Are urban growth boundaries effective tools for curbing sprawl, or an infringement of property rights?
Dec 06, 2012
When I moved to Charlotte more than 30 years ago, Matthews was the suburb. Years of attracting people looking for a small town and a private getaway have built a fabric of large lawns and scattered houses, and more lawns and more houses. Where does a it go from here?
Dec 05, 2012
Commonwealth Morningside neighbors are trying to do what Plaza Midwood did six years ago: work with neighborhood parents and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools until the parents are comfortable sending their children to the neighborhood public school. Assignment to a low-performing public school is an issue in many revitalizing Charlotte neighborhoods.
Nov 27, 2012
Learning to speak each other's language about urbanism means understanding New Urbanism, Landscape Urbanism and more. So let’s sort a few things out and get at some simple definitions.
Nov 15, 2012
By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004 – with Echo Boomers leading the trend. Here in Mecklenburg County, however, younger drivers are on the road more, not less.
Sep 24, 2012
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx argues the merits of political consolidation as the route forward to economic development and improved public services. Love the idea or hate it, some regional cooperation is needed.
Jun 27, 2012
How did this happen? How did a Charlotte City Council – with all 11 members willing to vote for a small property tax hike to pay for an ambitious, five-year plan of neighborhood improvements – wind up killing that five-year plan?
May 17, 2012
Tom Hanchett, staff historian at Levine Museum of the New South, contends that the most urban corner in the city is Central Avenue at Rosehaven Drive. For weeks I have respectfully declined to agree. By virtually any standard of city form, nothing at that corner is urban. But as Hanchett led 20 Charlotteans on a recent “munching tour” at the corner, his thesis began to sink in.
Apr 18, 2012
Where are urban regions growing – in their cores or suburbs? What is happening in rural areas? New population figures have fostered speculation about what growth in urban regions will be like in the future.  For rural parts of the Carolinas, the issue isn’t about growth at all, but widespread decline in population.
Nov 10, 2011
Despite lines on maps carving out city limits and voting districts and state borders, in the real world of air and water, of urban transportation and economies, city regions function in ways our political systems may not recognize. This is the case in Charlotte and pretty much across the United States. But is it possible to get around that problem and create meaningful ways to look at city regions as they truly are – regions? Last week I spent several days chewing over that question with more than two dozen business and nonprofit leaders, academics, writers and former mayors.