August 14, 2007
The Planning Commission, the Zoning Department, Home Owners and Neighborhood Associations.Charlotte-Mecklenburg has a large and capable staff of good folks at The Planning Commission. They have an excellent map-making department, a superb graphics department, they have numbers and statistics folks with lots of experience and they have visionaries, too. It amazes me how we sometimes do not listen and take into account their recommendations. Doesn’t that make you wonder? Recently, zoning was passed by the governing body for a project in Dilworth that both the Planning Commission and the Neighborhood Association opposed.I read an article recently from Seattle…it spoke to the longing many years ago for the community to be involved in the planning of their city. Community formed, community spoke and with little avail. Money speaks louder make no mistake about it…if it’s in the form of the possibility of increased tax revenues or another source of income…we see it happen time and time again. And if community wins once…wait…for the developers can often outwait the community. It has happened before and it will happen again. Axiom.Zoning. How do they keep it straight? We have to have smaller home sites so we can have more homes. We court density thinking it is the only saving grace, the only answer to an energetic, burgeoning town. Smaller home sites, more vertical homes priced higher and higher each year. And just for fun, do you think there is a limit on the number of one bedroom condominiums in uptown Charlotte? Okay, here is a puzzle. There was an article about the Light Rail and how there are building permits for 7300 residential units along the rail. Now there is also a report that informs us that in the last quarter of 2006 there were 7300 building permits for condos. There is probably some overlap, but when asked, I was told they are not the same.The very neighborhoods with their charm and ambiance that brought folks here are changing. Maybe it is inevitable. We are a people who fancy “more?. I keep wondering if other cities go through this…where neighborhoods change and streets change and the Mom and Pop shops and restaurants can’t compete and pretty soon, Charlotte as we know it, knew it, is gone.In my sleepy, country neighborhood, we have a strong neighborhood association because builders have found us and try to build more houses than our covenants and restrictions call for. We want to maintain the integrity of our neighborhood, we stand close, chip in, hire an attorney, speak out, fight back. Part of this process has been fun…we have a website, an email newsletter and we get together more often. Look for the good, cherish the positive.
I have a friend who is a personal trainer…she says we “tear? the muscle apart to build the muscle stronger. Maybe it is that way with cities. I have lived in Charlotte for over 50 years. I love this place like no other. I can recall another time…and I am grateful that we live in this vortex of growth and change. I only wish we could grow our integrity as well.