CHARLOTTE – A proposed duplex project has rekindled interest among Charlotte City Council members to look at how redevelopment incrementally affects traffic congestion along Providence Road.
Blue Azalea, a Ballantyne-based developer, wants to redevelop an acre at Vernon and Providence drives to build three high-end duplexes. The property currently consists of a duplex and two single-family homes.
“I’m adding two additional families to the street, not 20, not 40, not 100,” owner Joe DiZazzo told the council during the May 20 public hearing.
Townhomes within DiZazzo’s Darlington Manor Homes will consist of 3,500 square feet with three bedrooms and 4.5 baths, two-car garages and walk-out patio and garden areas. They are designed for people looking to right-size their homes.
But as many as 120 neighbors have signed a petition against the rezoning, including Mark Erwin.
Erwin, a former U.S. Ambassador who served roles in the Clinton Administration, spoke on behalf of neighbors during the public hearing. He expressed concerns about there being too much density for such a small site, the loss of legacy trees and cut-through traffic and safety along small roads.
“The Providence Road corridor is highly congested already,” Erwin said.
Councilman Tariq Bokhari, who represents the neighborhood, said both sides made compelling cases. He encouraged them to come to the table in good faith over the next month to arrive at some concessions.
He directed staff to look at those neighborhood roads and the life expectancy of the legacy trees.
“Providence Road and that corridor and just the disaster of congestion that exists makes a lot of cases that otherwise might look like no-brainers into hard decisions,” Bokhari said. “I haven’t seen the plan that is going to make it better yet.”
Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said she struggles with Providence Road. She’d like to get a sense from staff about how many redevelopment projects have been approved in recent years.
“There are more projects in the pipeline down Providence Road,” she said. “We look at these things as a one-off. That’s not that bad. It looks nice. The fact of the matter is it’s dumping a lot of traffic out on Providence Road and onto Wendover.”
Councilman Ed Driggs, who represents the Ballantyne area, said he cringes every time he hears Providence Road in a rezoning context.
“We can’t make a policy on a case-to-case basis with our zoning decisions,” Driggs said. “I’ve been calling for a couple of years for a more informed congestion policy. I think a moratorium is not the right idea. But you can have a specific Providence Road sub-plan.”
The South District Plan, which dates back to 1993, recommends three dwelling units per acre. But the proposal falls in line with the General Development Policies, allowing for up to eight dwellings per acre, said Dave Pettine, a city planner.