The approval Monday of one large apartment project near UNC Charlotte and requests for two more spurred the Charlotte City Council to seek a study of parking needs near the city’s universities.
“We’re spending a billion dollars on light rail. At some point we have to encourage people not to use cars,” City Council member Michael Barnes, whose district includes UNC Charlotte, said at a dinner meeting before the council’s main meeting Monday night.
Later, during a vote to rezone 6 acres near the university for 250 apartments, Barnes asked the council’s Transportation and Planning Committee to analyze parking requirements – what’s allowed, what’s advisable – for high-density housing aimed at students.
The overall dilemma the city is grappling with is that while it aims to encourage more walking and less driving, especially near light rail lines, most areas, such as near UNC Charlotte, were designed so that driving is all but essential. How much parking should the city require in new developments, especially those near light rail? Or will lack of parking just cause those developments to fail?
Barnes and at-large council member Claire Fallon also said they worried that the city is allowing too many apartment projects in northeast Charlotte.
The council decided to look at parking not only in the UNC Charlotte area but also at Queens University of Charlotte in Myers Park and Johnson C. Smith University on Beatties Ford Road.
The proposed rezoning that sparked Barnes’ request – a proposal by the McAlpine Company for 250 apartments at University City Boulevard and Mallard Creek Church Road – won unanimous council approval.
Shortly after that vote came a public hearing on a rezoning proposal from Crescent Resources for 200 apartments on almost 5 acres across University City Boulevard from the main UNC Charlotte gates. Neighbors, many living in the College Downs neighborhood just behind the site, turned out to speak against the project. Retired UNC Charlotte employee Ken Burrows referred to the common “Not In My Back Yard” nickname for development opponents: “I’m not a NIMBY,” he said. But the neighborhood already suffers from too many transient students in rental housing, he said. “It will exacerbate current nuisances.”
That rezoning won’t be voted on until next month.
That hearing and one for up to 96 multifamily units just west of the corner of North Tryon Street and W.T. Harris Boulevard drew pointed comments from Barnes and Fallon. Both say northeast Charlotte is suffering from too much apartment development.
“What I’m worried about, guys, is the deterioration of northeast Charlotte,” Barnes said.
“You cannot overwhelm the community,” Fallon said, discussing the Crescent proposal. She said she worries that apartments aimed at students are pushing out established neighbors and housing. “There are existing communities. You are going to push these people out.”
Planning Director Debra Campbell, after the meeting, said her department is already studying multifamily housing in Barnes’ District 4. As to parking, she said at the meeting: “Parking in general is an issue in our community, especially in some of our more urban districts.”
The council on Monday voted unanimously for all the rezoning petitions up for approval. The Planning Commission’s Zoning Committee had recommended adopting all the proposed rezonings. They are:
Petition 2011-79 for 1.2 acres at Tuckaseegee Road and Little Rock Road to allow a convenience store-gas station to expand.
Petition 2011-82 for 11 acres at South Tryon Street and Steele Creek Road, for a 100,000-square-foot office and retail development.
Petition 2011-83 for 22 acres at Steele Creek Road and Walker Branch Drive, for a 155,000-square-foot shopping center next to the existing RiverGate Shopping Center.
Petition 2012-001 for almost 4 acres on East 36th Street next to the Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa, to change a previously approved rezoning and increase the number of residential units from 160 to 250 and shrink the nonresidential space from 42,000 square feet to the current 22,500 square feet now within the existing theater building, with the option for live/work units in the new building along 36th Street.
Petition 2012-06 for almost 6 acres on the north side of Millerton Avenue near the intersection of West Morehead Street, to increase the number of residential buildings but maintain the same number of residential units, 270.
Petition 2012-08 for 30 acres at Reames Road and Bayview Parkway, for up to 240 multi-family residential units.
Petition 2012-11 for 8 acres on Randolph Road between Wonderwood Drive and Shasta Lane, for a 125-bed nursing home.
And a change to the city’s zoning ordinance affecting crematories.
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