CHARLOTTE – Charlotte City Council revisited its Ballantyne Reimagined vote on June 15 due to a procedural oversight, but the rezoning didn’t receive as warm a reception as it did when members approved it a week prior.
Mayor Vi Lyles explained that changes were made to the project after the rezoning went before the zoning committee, so the council should have voted June 8 whether to send the project back to the zoning committee before taking action.
“This is very complex,” Lyles said. “We don’t get to rezone for over 400 acres very often, and we inadvertantly skipped a vote not to send those changes back to the zoning committee.”
Once the council voted June 15 not to send the rezoning back to the zoning commtitee, members had to ratify the June 8 vote. The official vote was 8-3 as opposed to 10-1 from the previous week.
Braxton Winston, Matt Newton and Renee Perkins Johnson voted against the measure, while Victoria Watlington voted “Mmm – for consistency I’ll say yes with great trepidation.”
Perkins Johnson was the lone vote against the project on June 8 because she wanted the affordable housing to include people making 30% of the area median income.
Northwood initially proposed 160 units at 80% AMI, but amended the project twice to include more. The latest proposal includes 260 units between 50% and 80% AMI.
On June 15, Winston and Watlington asked the petitioner questions about affordable housing.
Watlington had to ask three times why the AMI went no lower than 50%, but Jeff Brown, an attorney representing Northwood, didn’t give a direct answer, prompting Mayor Vi Lyles to reply: “It was a negotiation.”
Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera applauded Northwood’s efforts to add more affordable housing.
“This is a huge economic development opportunity for our city with signficiant investment that could bring quality jobs,” Ajmera said. “I would have liked to have seen 30% AMI when it comes to affordable housing but I’m not going to let perfect be the enemy of good.”
Councilman Ed Driggs described 30% AMI as “economically just completely unworkable” during his weekly coffee meeting on June 12. He added the project was an upmarket environment as far as restaurants and shops.
“I do think the entire development offers many advantages,” Driggs said during his coffee meeting. “We were able to come up with a creative solution for the affordable housing issue that sets an example, I think, as a model for a public-private partnership approach to the housing issues. It gets 260 affordable units into an area that otherwise was inaccessible because of land prices.”