Development

What if you have a community meeting for a new development and no one shows up?

dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Local residents will get the chance Tuesday night to hear more details about Lincoln Harris’ and Crescent Communities’ plan to build a massive new development on the scale of Ballantyne west of the airport, at a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. at the CPCC Harris Conference Center.

It’s part of the development process that most projects have to go through: Before Charlotte City Council holds a hearing and votes on a proposed project, the developer has to have a meeting with nearby residents and answer their questions.

You can see the formal community meeting notice for the Lincoln Harris/Crescent project online here. The River District project would transform 1,360 acres of mostly woodland west of the airport into a major mixed use development with offices, apartments, houses, shops and retail.

Tuesday’s meeting will probably be pretty well-attended, given the size of the project. But they aren’t always. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to see such meetings not attended by anyone from the community at all.

There are lots of reasons a meeting might be poorly attended, of course. The project might not be particularly interesting or controversial. Or local residents might not get the notification – they’re usually sent by mail, and some have criticized the notification system for being outmoded. Or a community might have few engaged residents willing to give up a night to listen to people talk about zoning.

Here are a couple of summaries of recent meetings developers held in which no one came, from the reports posted on the city’s rezoning website:

“The community meeting was held and no one attended. The Petitioner waited at the site for approximately one (1) hour,” wrote the developers of a planned apartment complex on Reames Road in north Charlotte.

“There were no attendees at the Required Community Meeting,” wrote Woodfield Investments, the developer building a second phase of an apartment building near Northlake Mall.

There are others, and they all have the same mix of bureaucratic writing and plaintive loneliness. Such reports make me consider how effective – or not – our system of rezoning information is. One complaint I hear from neighbors frequently is that they wish they had more information. But unless there is a very involved community association involved, meetings such as these can slip by without really helping anyone.

So, what do you think? How would you like to see developers inform communities of their plans?

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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