Charlotte to move forward with Google Fiber proposal

The Charlotte City Council gave the green light Monday for a formal application requesting Google bring its gigabit residential broadband Internet service to the city.

Charlotte is one of a handful of cities being considered for the service, known as Google Fiber. It provides Internet speeds 100 times faster than conventional broadband.

The city released a list of 31 sites for so-called “Fiber Huts,” which Google would build to help bring the service to people’s homes.

The huts would be located on sites such as city-owned fire stations, water tanks, the police and fire academy, a landfill and even Evergreen Cemetery in east Charlotte.

The city has leased space on its land to cellphone towers in the past.

Google is considering nine metro areas for the service, after it debuted it in Kansas City; Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas.

The Charlotte metro area is in the running for Google Fiber with Portland, Oregon; San Jose, Calif.; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; San Antonio, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Atlanta; and the Raleigh-Durham area.

The city of Charlotte will submit its proposal by May 1. It expects to hear from Google whether it will be chosen by the end of the year at the latest, said Phil Reiger of the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Based on pricing in Kansas City, an Internet-only service from Google would cost $70 a month. The Internet service plus television programming would cost $120 a month.

The service would only be available inside the city limits.

The city said Google hasn’t asked for any financial incentives to build the Internet system. The “huts” would be 1,400 square feet each and would serve about 20,000 households. The city would lease the land for the huts for a 20-year term.

“Are we allocating staff resources on this that would normally be handled on the private sector side?” asked council member Kenny Smith.

Reiger said that would not be the case.

In other action, council members unanimously approved a rezoning for 89.5 acres on Providence Road south of Interstate 485. The rezoning, requested by Crosland Southeast and Childress Klein, will allow for the construction of Waverly, a mixed-use development anchored by a Whole Foods.

Council members also approved the rezoning of 5.71 acres in the Cherry neighborhood as requested by Stonehunt LLC.

Stonehunt has proposed building 39 single-family homes and two duplexes on the site.

City staff recommended the project be approved, but the Zoning Committee voted 5-1 against the project. Pasty Kinsey was the only council member to vote against the rezoning.

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