Residents and business owners of the Park Woodlawn community met with representatives from Charlotte's Planning Department Nov. 17 in the first step toward developing a new area plan.
Designed to be a framework for future growth and development, an area plan is a policy document that guides elected officials as they make land-use and zoning decisions.
The plan will focus on land use, transportation, design and environmental issues.
Though elected officials are not bound by the plan, they make decisions with it in mind.
The Park Woodlawn area, which is generally bordered by Tyvola Road to the south and East Boulevard to the north, has never had its own area plan, but it has been included in the Central District Plan (adopted 1993), South District Plan (1993) and Park Road Corridor Area Plan (1992).
Because the area has changed so much in the past 20 years, it was overdue for an update, said Alberto Gonzalez, principal planner for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department.
"It's the best time...to take a new look at the area," said Gonzalez.
Nearly 200 property owners in the area came to the auditorium at Park Road Montessori School last Thursday night.
At the end of the meeting, attendees were invited to fill out a short survey and place post-it notes on large maps at the front of the room, marking areas they valued or places of concern.
The process for the plan will take about a year, and there will be additional public meetings.
The first Citizen Advisory Board meeting will be Dec. 8 and the second public meeting will be in spring 2012, Gonzalez said.
Ellen Stenstrom, who's lived in Madison Park for nearly 30 years, attended the meeting and said she's considering whether to join the citizen advisory group. She'd like to see more sidewalks and consistent sidewalk repair, and for boarded up buildings to be sold to reputable developers.
And, like most area residents, she has concerns about traffic.
"I do think citizens can give input on policy," said Stenstrom. "You can't just complain; you have to put in time and energy. Eventually it (the area) will change. ...Let's be in control of it."