After a nearly year-long fight, City Council rejects Sharon Lane townhouses by one vote

Rendering of planned townhouses on Sharon Lane.
Rendering of planned townhouses on Sharon Lane.

Charlotte City Council voted down a proposal Monday night to build townhouses on Sharon Lane, after nearly a year of opposition from neighbors who said the plan was wrong for their single-family neighborhood.

The townhouse plan lost by one vote, in a six-to-five split. Neighbors in the area just south of Providence Road gathered more than 1,200 signatures opposing the project from Simonini Homes and Saratoga Asset Management.

The council members who voted for the plan said that in other areas of Charlotte, the rezoning would likely have been approved without much fuss.

“How can one part of Charlotte be sacrosanct and one part be open field for anything?” asked council member Claire Fallon, referencing a denser townhouse plan that City Council approved last year in north Charlotte over neighbors’ objections.

Council member Ed Driggs echoed her, noting “We have passed things like this routinely” in less vocal neighborhoods.

But council member Kenny Smith, who represents the area where the townhouses were proposed, said the area should remain single-family houses.

“I still believe that single-family is the most appropriate use for Sharon Lane,” said Smith. He voted against the plan along with council members Vi Lyles, Julie Eiselt, Patsy Kinsey, Al Austin and Dimple Ajmera.

Council members Greg Phipps, LaWana Mayfield, James Mitchell, Claire Fallon and Ed Driggs voted for the plan.

The site on Sharon Lane is currently occupied by five single-family houses. Simonini had originally planned to build 38 townhouses on the 6.3-acre site, averaging about $1 million each. They progressively reduced that number in an attempt to please neighbors and skeptical council members – first to 24, and then, in a last-ditch attempt to win support over the weekend, to 18.

The original rezoning petition was filed almost a year ago. Simonini was targeting empty-nesters looking to downsize and move to houses that were closer to the city’s center and near shops and restaurants. Last week, Charlotte City Council voted 5 to 4 against the plan. But since two members were absent, and a six-member majority of the full board is needed to pass anything, the first “no” vote didn’t stick.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo