University City

University City neighborhods near Prosperity Church interchange push for walkable village

Hoping for a walking village, residents near the Prosperity Church Road interchange are unhappy with the multifamily housing options in the Prosperity Hucks Area Plan.

The Prosperity Hucks Area Plan, which provides a framework for future growth and development, includes the emerging Prosperity Church Road Mixed Use Center, where Prosperity Church Road intersects Interstate 485.

Communities including Highland Creek, Skybrook and Eastfield Ridge are banding together to seek transparency and public input into the development plans, which they think do not represent the walking village originally proposed, said Wes Ports, a Highland Creek Community Association board member.

“We want people to be informed,” he said.

Ports lives in Highland Creek near where the planned mixed-use center would be. He said he wants to see that walking village – one where he can shop and eat with his family without relying on a car – not the apartments and strip shopping centers residents see in the plan now.

Ports said he and other residents plan to share their concerns at a Charlotte-Mecklenburg City Council workshop/residents forum on May 5.

City staff met with residents at the March 27 Mallard Creek Community Association meeting, which more than 250 people attended. Residents voiced concerns about having too many apartments in the plan area, increased traffic congestion, crowding in schools and open space and a lack of clarity in how the plan is written.

Phipps said, however, that the plan has always called for a mix of housing types, including multifamily. He said the goal is for the plan to connect neighborhood streets in ways that avoid increased congestion.

The council is working with the N.C. Department of Transportation on that issue, as well as on avoiding congestion on I-485, which also will go through the area.

As a result of the public concerns, the county has delayed the initial public hearing to give time to further review the plan, said Charlotte City Council member Gregory Phipps, who represents District 4.

“Their input is being taken seriously,” Phipps said. “This is our effort to be as transparent as possible in the whole process.”

Though there have been a number of public meetings on the plan in the past two years, Phipps said, residents’ concerns have only recently come to light.

“There are plenty of opportunities for communities to be informed on this plan,” he said.

Mallard Creek resident Ed Gulledge said many residents were unclear about what the plan called for until recently: “The more I studied it, the more I realized the village was going to be multifamily. It was obvious no one was really aware of what was getting ready to take place.”

Gulledge grew up on a dairy farm on the northern side of what will be an I-485 interchange in the area. He has lived there for 65 years and would like to see restaurants and other amenities come to the area.

“We were promised a village,” he said. “We don’t want something detrimental to our lifestyle and property values.”

Gulledge said he wants the opportunity to sit down with county officials and “come up with a plan we can all live with.” He plans to attend the May 5 public forum along with other residents to share his concerns.

Phipps said the county plans to review options for the area plan and ensure the language is clear to residents. He stressed that the plan is flexible, and provides a general framework for the growth that will occur in the Prosperity Hucks area.

“A lot of development will occur, whether we have the right plan or not,” he said. “We want to make sure the development is appropriate for our vision for the area. It’s critical we get the plan right.”