South Charlotte

South Charlotte balks at joining housing talks

Though talk of new incentive-based inclusionary housing practices could directly affect south Charlotte, area residents' interest in the citizen-advisory group has been nearly nonexistent, said Charlotte City Council Representative Warren Cooksey.

For months, the city has been looking at ways to encourage private-sector development of affordable housing through regulatory and financial incentives.

The goal is to create mixed-income, single-family-home communities.

Towns such as Davidson and Chapel Hill have mandatory inclusionary housing, where a certain percentage of all units built have to be affordable housing.

In Charlotte, it's voluntary, and the incentives discussions would still keep it that way.

The incentives would provide more regulation (for the developers and for the city) if developers choose to include mixed-income housing in their single-family-home developments.

For example, the city could allow someone to build a specified number of additional units per acre, if the builder agrees to dedicate a specified percentage of the total units for affordable housing.

Other incentives could include: density bonuses, increased building height allowances, expedited permits, tax abatement and more.

The goal of this committee is not to create affordable housing communities, said Bryman Suttle with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department.

The goal "is to create mixed-income communities, allowing more opportunities for folks - the policeman, the teacher."

Right now the city's goal is to provide housing options for people with incomes less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income, which is $54,000.

That means they're targeting people who make $40,500 or less. In the past, the city has offered financial incentives for developers to include mixed-income housing in their single-family-home developments. But they haven't been regulated.

Staff from the planning department's Neighborhood and Business Services held an initial public meeting in September to offer an overview, and they formed a citizen-advisory group last fall to get feedback from residents across Charlotte.

There have already been five citizen-advisory board meetings, and there are only three more on Jan. 19, Feb. 9 and Feb. 23.

Cooksey said the lack of south Charlotte representation is noticeable, and the Dec. 13 meeting summary shows it was even a topic of discussion.

Currently, Madison Park and Myers Park are the only south Charlotte neighborhoods to send someone.

"No one from south of McAlpine Creek," said Cooksey.

But residents should know that some of the policy discussion is focused on south Charlotte and the other edges of southeast, northwest and northeast Charlotte, said Cooksey.

"Sadly, housing policy...doesn't click with people," said Cooksey. "(It) isn't something they think about."

Suttle said he would welcome more south Charlotte participation, and he would be happy to speak with HOA leaders or at neighborhood meetings.

"It's not too late to get involved," he said.