• Announcements

    • Neo

      WARNING!   07/26/16

      By reading or participating in the Coffee House forum, you are acknowledging that some topics may be highly controversial in nature. While we make every attempt to ensure that no one and no groups are offended as a result of discussions contained within, we unfortunately can make no guarantees. Participate in threads contained within this forum at your own risk.

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

atlrvr

Anti-Sprawl Initiatives

15 posts in this topic

Well, I was going to try to take the topic on Atlanta and shift gears, but since it was closed, I'll start a new thread.

One thing that people kept saying on the previous thread is that "Charlotte will learn from Atlanta's mistakes". While this is nice to say, exactly what are we going to do differently, or what policy changes can we make now to ensure Charlotte has a different pattern of development? The obvious truth is that Charlotte, like Atlanta is a product of the auto-age. The American dream is a single family home, a yard, and 2 cars. Here in the south, where land is cheap and laborers are cheaper, the dream gets strechted into a larger house, a lot of land, and at least 2 cars.

One thing that Charlotte has done differently than Atlanta is that while we are building transit, we are also forming a land-use plan at the stations that demands new developments to meet minimum densities. To provide teeth, we are adding new zoning districts that require this standard, and the city will be taking it on itself to rezone most transit oriented properties to this new higher standard. The downside to this, is that in anticipation of upzoning, many people are now buying and holding properties much like Levine did in Uptown. They assume their properties will be selected for the next large development. To counter this, the city is imposing a 120' cap on the TOD rezonings in SouthEnd that will be the first set to be rezoned. (I don't think this applies to the existing UMUD parcels) This will keep prices at a hopefully more realistic level by eliminating investors hopes for their site to be chosen as a high-rise.

There are several policy changes around the country that are worth examining. The most obvious is the development ring in Portland that prohibits unchecked sprawl. It has had modest success, though Oregon is having a terrible time with employer retention, employment rates, and cost of living increases due to this policy. One of my favorites, is a Massachussetts law that allows the state to overrule a local residential rezoning decision, if the municipaolity that denies the residential upzoning currently has less than 10% affordable housing.

I'm curious what others think we are doing differently than Atlanta or any other sunbelt boom city that will limit sprawl, and what we could enact to ensure that we do develop in a more "responsible" way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


This is a better concentrated thread for this subject - I don't have much to say right now (maybe some would prefer it that way ;)) but I will add a few thoughts:

I do agree Charlotte is one of the regional leaders for smart growth, which will be a tremendous asset to the city as the metro grows further in the coming decades. Additionally, Mecklenburg County also 'gets it' - which will further save Charlotte from unchecked sprawl. But my primary point in all of this - is unless the regional metro adopts a similar pattern, this could prove to be a detriment to fully realizing the goal of limiting sprawl. In addition, as Portland OR has proven, smart growth initiatives have their downfall - in the past few years the cost of living has risen as well general dissent in regard to taxes & home cost. This of course can be explained by the rise & fall of dot com industries & typical neo-conservative opposition to 'big government', but it appears to be more complex than that.

So - my basic concerns are 1) regional non-cooperation & 2) anti-tax / regulation opposition. If Lancaster County has lower taxes & homes significantly cheaper - that will not bode well. Even though we all are aware of the advantages of urbanism & smart growth - but eventually the dollar talks. The best thing Charlotte can do, & the regulations & possible high taxes will accomplish this despite the opposition, will be to create a city people WANT to live, work, & shop.

Reinterest in urbanism will hopefully accomplish this - as it has provided Atlanta a nearly 10 year period of growth - people will tilt the current tide of cheap suburban / exurban living.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Designate rural areas of Mecklenburg County under protected open space. The land can be acquired from the county/Charlotte/other towns combined financially so the residents of Meck County can see maintained or improved quality of life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Designate rural areas of Mecklenburg County under protected open space. The land can be acquired from the county/Charlotte/other towns combined financially so the residents of Meck County can see maintained or improved quality of life.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is from Centex's website - I'm sure the other McMansion sites are the same. Outer Loop, Wooo!

centex.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started a similar discussion on the Providence board. My main concern is that the portland style, forced "smart growth" approach is not workable. I'm not against all regulation to limit sprawl but I think the danger is that people on this board basically agree on what kind of development we like so we spend a lot of time talking about how to implement it while treating political opposition as just some outside variable. In contrast I liked this column from the president of the CNU. (responding to a "libertarian" who is against new urbanism):

http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2005/04/18/s...icle_483319.php

"The New Urbanists do not demand the elimination of suburbia - only that we be allowed to build compact, walkable and mixed-use communities.

Current zoning codes in most areas allow only the development of single-use, auto-dependent housing subdivisions, shopping centers and office parks. New Urbanists have found that there is a strong market demand for traditional towns, and that towns should not face regulatory obstacles greater than conventional suburbia.

The New Urbanists think that it is fiscally prudent that new development should, when it requires theextension of infrastructure and services, pay its own way. Currently, subsidies for extending urban services effectively rob taxpayers in existing communities that have long since paid for their infrastructure.

The New Urbanists insist that building on existing infill lots should not be subject to a permitting process more difficult than that required for greenfield parcels. Government should honor equal economic opportunity for both urban and rural landowners.

Greenhut says he's for freedom and, if he is, he should join us in seeking to ease restrictions that block traditional urban development. "

---------------------------

Whatever role you think that govt can or should play I think that this is a very winnable argument for new urbanism. What I like about the CNU is that their starting point has been to get together a large number of planners,architects, etc. who can implelement good development and build on that. It's hard for opponents to make a good argument for why they shouldn't do that.

Whereas Portland's Smart Growth approach has been to dive into a contentious political battle which,

despite the real beneifits of their policies, they are still fighting 30 years on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started a similar discussion on the Providence board. My main concern is that the portland style, forced "smart growth" approach is not workable. I'm not against all regulation to limit sprawl but I think the danger is that people on this board basically agree on what kind of development we like so we spend a lot of time talking about how to implement it while treating political opposition as just some outside variable. In contrast I liked this column from the president of the CNU. (responding to a "libertarian" who is against new urbanism):

http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2005/04/18/s...icle_483319.php

"The New Urbanists do not demand the elimination of suburbia - only that we be allowed to build compact, walkable and mixed-use communities.

Current zoning codes in most areas allow only the development of single-use, auto-dependent housing subdivisions, shopping centers and office parks. New Urbanists have found that there is a strong market demand for traditional towns, and that towns should not face regulatory obstacles greater than conventional suburbia.

The New Urbanists think that it is fiscally prudent that new development should, when it requires theextension of infrastructure and services, pay its own way. Currently, subsidies for extending urban services effectively rob taxpayers in existing communities that have long since paid for their infrastructure.

The New Urbanists insist that building on existing infill lots should not be subject to a permitting process more difficult than that required for greenfield parcels. Government should honor equal economic opportunity for both urban and rural landowners.

Greenhut says he's for freedom and, if he is, he should join us in seeking to ease restrictions that block traditional urban development. "

---------------------------

Whatever role you think that govt can or should play I think that this is a very winnable argument for new urbanism. What I like about the CNU is that their starting point has been to get together a large number of planners,architects, etc. who can implelement good development and build on that. It's hard for opponents to make a good argument for why they shouldn't do that.

Whereas Portland's Smart Growth approach has been to dive into a contentious political battle which,

despite the real beneifits of their policies, they are still fighting 30 years on.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Kurtosis - I think you pretty accurately explained the possible failures of Portland's smart growth approach. Despite that, I do admit expressing a more socialist political view point, but I certainly understand we should not force a political will on people that do not agree. But in Charlotte's case, they are not engaging in a full smart growth approach, taking a more moderate approach which may explain Charlotte's success. Basically - no one in the southeast is ready for the government to state: "you can't develop your property", but I think we southerners are willing to accept some limitations in the way we can develop.

Unfortunately, the reality is development of one's property is selfish, it is self oriented rather than a greater community oriented behavior. In a developing urban region there has to be more regional cooperation to enable the livlihood of not just the individual but the community as a whole.

But I can certainly understand, if I owned 100 acres of an abandoned farm - I would want everything I could possibly get out of it. It simply isn't fair for a governing body to dictate who can develop the property & who can't. That is where some financial / tax incentives will have to come in to encourage smart growth on the private level - rather than potentially breaking the constitutional law protecting private land.

So did I make a concise argeument for any one view? No, I admit I didn't - I see a lot of greys here, not black & white.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that one of the problems in Charlotte is that city council is a bit weak-kneed in following their own vision. Recently a rezoning to a Mixed-Use district was denied for a 1 acre parcel that is about 1.5 miles from the center city. The parcel is on a major 4-lane thouroughfare, and the developer wanted to go 4 stories and 40 units. The single family neighborhood behind them filed a protest petition which requires a 3/4 majority of council to approve, and the petition subsequently failed, even though the planning commission and planning staff supported the petition.

I'm not sure there is a cure for NIMBY-ism, but it's time that city government be willing to accept higher density where it makes sense. Perhaps, if a rezoning has the approval of the planning commission and staff or if it follows a small area plan, the a protest petition cannot be filed.

As far as greenspace conservation, I'm not sure the best method. I would be in the property rights camp, but at the same time realize that not all property owners (or few) are responsible. Perhaps looking back at parcel maps from a set time (i.e. January 1, 2005) and requiring that all parcels greater than 100 acres can be developed at only 50%, of which 40% of that must be developed as multi-family. This would certainly cause denser development, and the developer could put conservation easements on the remaining land.....also, TDR's could effectively be used here to create larger, master planned centers and leave large sections of land development free forever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps looking back at parcel maps from a set time (i.e. January 1, 2005) and requiring that all parcels greater than 100 acres can be developed at only 50%, of which 40% of that must be developed as multi-family.  This would certainly cause denser development, and the developer could put conservation easements on the remaining land.....also, TDR's could effectively be used here to create larger, master planned centers and leave large sections of land development free forever.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

But even higher density is a product of sprawl, one of the lesser known truths (Los Angeles is not only one of the most sprawling metros but also one of the densest). Developing an apartment complex (likely a garden style variety) in a transitional rural to suburban area will produce more unwanted effects which contribute to sprawl.

Personally, I'm not even a pro-density backer, I'm not opposed to higher densities, but I believe pedestrian oriented developments with a mixed use & enabled for transit use can incorporate single family homes. In fact - I consider my neighborhood to be urban and it is mostly single family homes with only a few duplexes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Well, I guess I was looking at it from a way to benefit the land owner as well, but valuing a portion of his property at multi-family....maybe it would make sense to allow upto 40% multi-family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know what you are saying with mixed-use, and there could be away to force it, but the problem is that is sometimes impossible to create a market.....possbily require a certain square footage of commercial space to be built before a new community can be completely built out to full residential capacity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing to consider - & this may be very obvious - but what are we considering, Charlotte the urban area or Charlotte the metro area? In regard to the previous thread, that might have been the misunderstanding - I was assuming we were discussing the metro area as opposed to just the city itself. For the sake of this post - what boundary are we exactly proposing to curb sprawl by? Metro or urban area?

As for the urban area of Charlotte - I think that is one fight that could be won. But the timing is critical, the urban mass of Charlotte is nearing Concord & Gastonia, has already enveloped Monroe & northern Mecklenburg, and is approaching Rock Hill via Fort Mill (based on census definition of urban area). But presently they are merely only 'arms', fairly thin urban strips that could be suppressed with enacting greenspace enforcement surrounding these areas. This would limit the spread of Charlotte over the entire metro area, as Atlanta has already spread over most of the neighboring towns & cities.

As for curbing sprawl for the greater Charlotte metro - I do feel this unfortunately is unfeasible (my primary point previously) due the metro already sprawling across numerous small cities in it's consolidated area. But even the term 'sprawl' is relative, perhaps a more accurate term for Charlotte's metro would be dispersed. I don't think it's neccessarily bad that residents of the Charlotte metro inhabitate multiple nodal areas - as long as each sattelite city's growth is contained. Combining transit & of course curbing growth between the sattelite cities & promoting growth in each city's core would create a very successful metro area. Otherwise, Charlotte's metro will be like Atlanta's metro - sprawling urban area across numerous satellite cities and growth occuring between the various cities themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charlotte only needs to look at its neighbors, Huntersville and Davidson, if it wants to learn what to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charlotte only needs to look at its neighbors, Huntersville and Davidson, if it wants to learn what to do.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That has been my greatest gripe - so many municipalities short change themselves with the view that they have to be proactive in attracting development NOW, no matter what the cost & the negative repurcussions that may occur. Development around major cities will happen, and if these cities / counties wisely manage their land assets they will be that much stronger for the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the north meck towns are becoming more aggresive in attracting industrial uses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That has been my greatest gripe - so many municipalities short change themselves with the view that they have to be proactive in attracting development NOW, no matter what the cost & the negative repurcussions that may occur.  Development around major cities will happen, and if these cities / counties wisely manage their land assets they will  be that much stronger for the future.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't know how it happened, but I thought I opened up that statement with: "If only more suburbs were like those" - regarding Davidson. Sorry if that wasn't clear...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.