City News

What's too tall for Myers Park?

An argument between the Myers Park Homeowners Association and a local developer over a proposed 11-story tower could lead to future changes in height limits in certain areas.

Some Charlotte City Council members at a public hearing for a rezoning request from The Boulevard Co. earlier this month were surprised that the company's roughly 1-acre Myers Park site would permit a 138-foot tower, for which Boulevard has the right to build under the Residential-22 zoning rules.

The company has since changed its plan to a maximum 90-foot condo or apartment tower after neighborhood protests, but needed a rezoning to add more housing units.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Zoning Committee, which serves as the last step of a rezoning request before the City Council votes, last week chose to defer a decision until Oct. 22 on Boulevard's request to rezone the parcel near Queens Road West and Selwyn Avenue. The zoning committee wants Boulevard to continue talks with the Myers Park Homeowners Association, which has strongly opposed the project, and other concerned residents.

“I am a lover, not a fighter,” said Boulevard president Chris Branch, whose company paid $1.3 million for the site in June 2007. “I'd much rather have a compromise because it's less of a risk for me.”

Boulevard's request countered the MPHA's November filing of its own rezoning of more than 41 acres on both sides of Selwyn around Queens. The request would reduce the current 22 housing units allowed per acre to eight per acre in hopes that future development would closely match the abundance of single-family homes and small condo buildings in the area.

Boulevard in July filed its own request for a change to Urban Residential-3, which, by definition, is reserved for “high density” that's “nearer the employment core.”

At a public hearing earlier this month, Mayor Pat McCrory said the Urban Residential-3 designation doesn't fit the area.

“What if you get the same exact request within a year across the street?” McCrory asked planning staff, which has recommended approval, during the Sept. 15 hearing. “At what point in time does the staff say that the density is too high … for that area?”

Boulevard originally submitted and received approval for a plan that included an 11-story, 138-foot tower, which is permitted under the site's current zoning. After neighborhood protests, the company worked with residents and reduced the project to a maximum height of 90 feet, but needed a change in zoning to build more units.

The MPHA and some other nearby condo associations still found 90 feet too high. Charles Smith, president of the adjacent 2400 Roswell Condo Owners Association, called the project “totally inappropriate and unnecessary.”

Branch said he'll continue talks with the neighborhood, but has not yet pulled the approval permit for the 138-foot tower. It would still have to go through the building permit process, but said he'd rather the neighborhood find whatever is built worthy of the area.

Meanwhile, the controversy from this project could bring changes to R-22 zoning districts around the area. Both city council and zoning committee members expressed displeasure with a 138-foot tower being allowed within R-22 districts.

City council member Susan Burgess called it “exorbitantly high” and council member John Lassiter said, “We're all a little surprised,” that a building that tall is permitted.

Zoning committee chairman David Howard said the city could re-examine the height allowed under R-22 in the future.