CHARLOTTE – Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith are among city council members wanting to walk back proposed changes to Charlotte’s sidewalk ordinance.
The changes were designed to close loopholes that allowed developers to delay sidewalk improvements to later phases of a project. They also work to prevent gaps in the sidewalk network along major thoroughfares.
Smith said the changes come off as punitive, not just to developers but also to landowners.
He worries about the small business owner that wants to expand on a quarter-acre lot having to pay more for bringing his sidewalk up to city standards than the cost of the addition.
“We’re asking individual landowners that have a right to build on their property to subsidize our sidewalk program,” Smith said.
Driggs supports sidewalks, but he has a problem with taking 14 feet from landowners to “create this little strip of Eden,” without a test as to whether anyone is going to walk on them.
“To try to move in that direction makes sense, but I just have a feeling that as written, this thing could result in some nonsensical outcomes,” Driggs said.
City leaders also expressed concern that the requirements will increase the price of affordable housing.
The council discussed the proposed changes Nov. 27, but wound up sending the issue to committee.
Mayor-elect Vi Lyles understands the points Driggs and Smith made against the proposed changes, but she urged the council to strike some sort of balance by thinking about how redevelopment is often stimulated by city investment. Lyles reasoned most sidewalks get upgraded through regulatory means, as opposed to bond referendums.