On Saturday, August 20, the Prosperity Village Association (PVAA) hosted an unprecedented public meeting that included multiple developers, city planning and you, our neighbors. Since that meeting, we’ve gotten lots of questions about how the meeting was conducted and why we decided to do it at all. Here’s a few of the most frequently asked questions:
Why have a meeting with developers?
Development is a big issue in Charlotte. Neighborhoods all over the city are feeling the pressure, and Prosperity Village is no different. We have been feeling development pressure for the past several years. In 2019 alone, the board of the Prosperity Village Area Association (PVAA) discussed six different development proposals with different development groups. When we started studying the proposals, we noticed that four were clustered around the south side of I-485. Those four proposals - all of which require rezoning - would constitute more than 100 acres of development. They also were near each other. After a few discussions among the board, we decided that we needed to bring the developers and our community together…and the Meet the Developers meeting was born.
What was the purpose of the meeting?
The purpose of the meeting was twofold:
· We wanted to provide an opportunity for the community to see the scope and scale of what was being proposed.
Getting the community to understand the scope and scale of the proposed developments were key. We wanted to unlock the fears, concerns and questions the community had about all the proposals. By city ordinance, all four proposals would require a public meeting. Developers are required to hold a meeting where the public is invited to learn the proposals. Based on our experience with public meetings, we knew that facilitating four separate meetings would be problematic. We knew our neighbors wouldn’t and couldn’t commit to four separate meetings. We also knew that our neighbors would be frustrated by facilitating that many meetings. The best way to approach this issue was to bring everyone together at one time.
· We wanted the developers to meet, hear about and coordinate their projects with each other.
The four properties totaling 100 acres all require rezoning. This means that the land as currently zoned cannot be used for the proposed development without being reclassified. In order to reclassify - or rezone - the land, the developer must submit their proposed plans and zoning classification to city planning for review and approval. However, the city’s rezoning process only reviews proposals as individual properties, which makes it easy to overlook the connections each property has with neighboring properties and the community in which it’s located. So the PVAA chose to facilitate a way for these developers to learn and make these connections via this meeting.
Why didn’t the City Planning department conduct the meeting?
The City Planning department is only involved with development when a rezoning is required. They don’t get involved in any ‘by-right’ development. A ‘by-right’ development means that a developer is building a project that meets the existing zoning (classification). For example, if land is zoned as ‘single-family’ residential and a developer wants to build single family residential units, the developer can do so ‘by-right’ and does not have to apply for zoning approval from the city. It has been estimated that over half of the development in Charlotte is done ‘by-right.’ However, when uses change, the City gets involved.
Due to how the city’s zoning ordinance is written, City Planning puts the onus of public outreach on the developers. Developers are responsible for presenting their proposals to the public. City Planning will only review the proposals and require a public meeting.
How did you get the developers to agree to attend the meeting?
The rezoning process requires public meetings to be conducted by developers. It can be difficult for a developer to conduct proper outreach if they aren’t involved in a community. As a result of the advocacy work the PVAA has done in development over the past few years, we’ve managed to build relationships with developers and their attorneys. When these four developers were initially contacted about our Meet the Developers meeting idea, they were not immediately convinced. However, because of our relationship and our track record, we were able to convince three of the four developers to attend. The fourth developer told us they would not be ready to participate in the meeting as scheduled, due to the amount of work that remained on their proposal.
The process of pulling together these developers took three months of meetings, phone calls and emails. Once they all agreed, it took another three months of planning to pull together the actual meeting. Altogether, it took six months for the PVAA to plan and host the August 20th meeting.
Did the meeting matter?
Yes! The PVAA conducted a public meeting in which three of the four developers attended. We also had 75 people attend the meeting, some of whom were City Planning employees. Because of that meeting:
· The developers agreed to include the infrastructure improvements requested by the PVAA into their projects. Those infrastructure improvements will also work in conjunction with the city bond projects slated for our area.
· One developer has offered to allocate almost three acres of their land to use as public open space.
· We’ve also had discussions about including improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure in all three of the development proposals.
Your voice and our involvement always matter. Together we’ll be successful!
(Check out the meeting and QA on the Prosperity Village Area Association YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXA8mn4nXsfIOxdrLo5CbyQ)