Charlotte Mayor: We need more streamlined development process

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter
Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter said Monday that the city and county need a more streamlined, easier-to-navigate process for development, with a unified process for people to go through when seeking to build.

Clodfelter spoke to real estate professionals at the Charlotte Region Commercial Board of Realtors' legislative update luncheon. Though he talked about topics from the city’s budget problems to widening I-485, Clodfelter said simplifying the land development process will be a priority for him.

Developers have complained about the process, which is fragmented between the city and Mecklenburg County, with each taking the lead at different steps along the way for a project. That can lead to confusion and overlap. For example, the city reviews commercial plans, but the county inspects buildings while they’re under construction to make sure they’re up to code. If the city and county don’t agree on the plans and the code’s proper interpretation, a project can be held up (You can see a good summary of many steps in the process here).

Last month, a consultant hired by the city and the county released a 286-page report on how best to simplify the process. The report goes into detail on every step, but Clodfelter said 80 percent of its value is contained in one recommendation: Establish a unified command structure for the whole fragmented procedure.

“Currently, there is a lack of coordination and collaboration between the City and the County. Governance does not effectively span County and City resulting in efforts that should be coordinated being performed unilaterally,” the Gartner consultant wrote. The report also outlined redundancy and a lack of integration between the city’s and county’s computer systems for tracking projects – something anyone who has spent much time looking up building permits and land use plans has already come across.

The consultants’ recommendations haven’t been formally presented to the full City Council and County Commission yet, and it would likely take years for the groups to fully combine the various land development functions. But with the heft of a consultants’ report, a long history of developer frustration and Clodfelter taking the issue up, it seems that there’s some momentum for changes.

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