Friday, May 20, 2011

Council member says planning IS included

City Council member David Howard just phoned to comment on my previous post, "Charlotte's disappearing focus on planning." Howard chaired the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission before he was elected to an at-large Charlotte City Council seat.  He wants to make this point: The council committee, which he chairs, is still named Transportation and Planning. I've corrected the previous post to make that change.

The council's committees essentially divvy up the workload, vetting issues before they reach the full council. So his committee hears and gives preliminary approval to many – but not all – area plans, land use policy changes, etc.  The so-called focus areas are the issues the council makes its top priorities. He said planning has never been a council focus area, "because it's infused in everything."

Since I was fortunate enough to have the chairman of the Transportation and Planning committee on the horn, I asked him about another tidbit I had spotted while burrowing through Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton's proposed budget for the next fiscal year. This is on page 70. Deep in the text accompanying the summary of the Planning Department's accomplishments and focus, etc., under "Service Delivery Challenges," is this:

"One of Planning's challenges is updating this [zoning and development] ordinance so that it reflects desired community characteristics and recently adopted land use and urban design public policy. A more comprehensive update is necessary. This will require a tremendous amount of resources and technical expertise that Planning does not have available in-house and funding is not available. The impact of which will be the inability to fully implement adopted area plans and [not] achieving the highest quality development Planning can in our community." 

In other words – and if you follow my writing this will sound familiar because I have been beating this drum for years – the city-county zoning ordinance needs a top-to-bottom rewrite. The types of development it allows and in some cases requires can all too often completely undercut the city's adopted plans and policies.

I asked Howard about that. He said he had had conversations with Planning Director Debra Campbell about that issue while he was on the planning commission. I asked if the idea of a comprehensive re-do of the city's zoning ordinance had come up at the City Council level. "It hasn't come up to that level," he said.

As a postscript I'll note, just because Charlotte and Raleigh NEVER compete, that Raleigh has in the past few years finished a massive re-do of its comprehensive plan, adopted in 20090, and is embarked on the huge task of rewriting its whole zoning code so that it upholds the plans.  That process is in the public comment period.


Anonymous said...

Charlotte is a bootstrap town.

As such, it is owned lock, stock and barrel by those who have pulled themselves up by bootstraps.

That would include developers.

Raleigh is a gummint town.

It is owned lock, stock and barrel by gummint.

As such, it is run by politicians who love things like planning.