CHARLOTTE – City Councilman Tariq Bokhari noticed a pattern when discussing the traffic on Providence Road. The discussion only happens during rezoning conversations.
City council’s Sept. 16 meeting proved no different.
NR Pinehurt Property Owner LLC wants to redevelop the apartment complex on 36 acres of Providence Road between Cloister Drive and Knob Oak Lane. The firm has requested changing its site plan to increase the number of units from 581 to 854.
During a public hearing, city staff recommended working with developers to revise their petition, but commissioners expressed many concerns, including the limitation of affordable housing.
However, the topic of traffic consistently drove the conversation.
“We seem to only talk about Providence Road during rezonings,” Bokhari said. “And it’s super annoying.”
The developers presented their traffic estimations, predicting that traffic in the area would only go up by 28% despite increasing the number of units by 47%.
Councilman Ed Driggs was one of the commissioners who mentioned concerns about traffic as Providence Road also goes into his district.
“From where I sit on Providence Road further south, I’m under a huge amount of pressure to find ways to limit from where we are today, like to reduce the kind of new trip creation that takes place,” Driggs said. “I’m struggling with this because if somebody comes to me and says, ‘Exactly why was it that you thought allowing 50% more density there given the context of Providence Road was a good idea?’ I’m not sure what I would tell them.”
Driggs also said he would be open to having a constructive conversation with developers about revising the petition, but there are multiple steps involved. He also said the petition seems to “run counter to the conversations” the city needs to have about Providence Road.
Bokhari said he has mentioned the problem with the traffic conversation multiple times and if there is enough passion about it, he has ideas for the council to come up with a solution. His issue is putting that responsibility in the hands of developers.
“Every time we bring up the traffic problem and lay it at the foot of developers on a petition-by-petition basis, it’s no different than calling for a moratorium,” Bokhari said. “So, that’s not what I think anyone here is about, so I think we’ve got to actually start doing some very specific work on that front, or don’t do it and we won’t ever bring it up in a petition again because it’s not a developer’s problem, who has mitigated a good chunk of the traffic they brought into the mix with their petition, to solve all the rest our problems laying at our footsteps.”
Bokhari told the board he wanted to consider all sides of the argument and brought up a need for more housing with an increase of Charlotte residents.
“Somewhere between 60 and 100 people are moving here a day and we know that we are in a severely depleted state from a housing stock perspective and we’ve got to do something about that,” Bokhari said.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles recognized Bokhari’s point but identified the bigger picture at hand.
“The density on this is going up by one half and if it were just the idea that we were doing something to develop in the neighborhood, then that would be fine,” Lyles said. “But this is not just developing redevelopment. This is actually getting to a place where you’re increasing it so much, and it’s not necessarily just about the traffic, and it’s not just about Providence Road. It’s about that entire gridlock that you’ve got in SouthPark and around there.”
The council will vote on the petition at a future meeting.