If the development process were a concert, rezoning hearings would be akin to something like the stage crew setting up the lights, microphones and speakers: Necessary, important, but certainly not the most riveting part of the performance.
Of course, rezoning hearings can be interesting, fraught with tension and angry tirades about traffic, laced with the subtext of different socioeconomic layers and clashing visions of what a community should look like.
But they can also be long. Very long, as in going until midnight. And they’ve been getting longer.
Charlotte City Council has noticed. After all, they’re required to sit there, through the whole meeting, while activists, zoning lawyers and nosy reporters can leave after the rezoning requests they came for are dealt with. According to City Council’s agenda for Monday, they plan to look at some ways to speed the process up.
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“The focus will be on recommendations related to the length of meetings and changes to the staff analyses and presentations for individual petitions...The City Council has expressed concerns about the increased length of recent rezoning meetings,” the agenda states. City Council will hear about possible changes to the process at its 5 p.m. dinner briefing.
The main reason the meetings have been getting longer, staff wrote in the agenda, is that there are more rezoning requests now than a few years ago, when development all but stopped during the recession. There were 78 rezoning requests in fiscal year 2011, compared to 138 in fiscal 2015. That’s a 77 percent increase.
Charlotte is also working through a multi-year process to rewrite the city’s zoning ordinance. City Council will also hear an update Monday on that process, and get more details on the consultant team that’s been selected. The team will be led by Camiros, a Chicago-based planning and development firm, and will include Parker Poe, Gantt Huberman Architects, and Wray Ward.