Providence Road traffic concerns aired at zoning meeting

Monday night’s zoning meeting drew dozens of petitioners and opponents of various rezoning plans.
Monday night’s zoning meeting drew dozens of petitioners and opponents of various rezoning plans.

Potential traffic issues on Providence Road loomed large Monday night at Charlotte City Council’s zoning meeting, as developers proposed new projects on one of the city’s major thoroughfares.

One proposed plan that drew opposition calls for a Kiddie Academy day care on Providence Road, on a 1.5-acre site across from Springs Farm Lane. Neighbors have said the plan would further clog an already congested area during peak travel times.

“I’m vehemently opposed to this project,” said John Shen, a nearby property owner who said he thinks the project will be too dense, loud and crowded. “There’s a lot of traffic issues.”

Staff is recommending approval of the plan.

One problem neighbors have is that the site would only be able to have a right-turn-in, right-turn-out access. That means if you were going south on Providence Road, you would need to make a U-turn to access the site.

“I’m struggling with that,” said council member Kenny Smith of that plan, which drew murmurs of assent from the crowd.

“We respect their concerns and wish we were on the same page, though we’re obviously not on the same page,” said John Carmichael, a lawyer representing the petitioner David Willis. Willis said there’s demand for a day care in the area.

Another rezoning plan by Levine Properties and Raley Miller Properties would replace the Carmel on Providence apartment complex with an 11-acre, mixed-use development. The project at Providence and Fairview roads could include up to 225 apartment units and 100,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery store. A revised site plan lowered that to 195 apartment units and 95,000 square feet of retail space.

The Charlotte Department of Transportation said in a projection that the site could have a big impact on traffic: The projected number of vehicle trips would increase from 1,300 under the current zoning to 8,300.

City staff isn’t recommending approval of the petition in its current form. The Strawberry Hill development across Providence Road and the adjacent Pinehurst on Providence apartments are also planning extensive redevelopment. Providence Road is already the most congested major north-south route serving the “south Charlotte wedge,” Mike Davis of CDOT said. Some 75,000 vehicles a day pass through the Providence-Fairview intersection.

Davis said different traffic signal configurations are needed to minimize congestion and create a walkable center.

Jeff Brown, a lawyer representing the developers, said they’re optimistic they can resolve any outstanding issues and that having a mixed-use center on the site could cut down on vehicle trips from residents who now drive to do their errands. The developers are filing revised site plans this week.

“Providence Road is busy during the peak hours,” said Brown. “But we are working hard to be able to make this work.”

Council members seemed generally supportive of the Carmel on Providence redevelopment plan.

“It fits the pattern of what we’re asking for,” said David Howard.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo