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Friday, March 4, 2016

    Zoning and Density. More or less?                               
    Our Zoning requirements may be rewritten and given that can we see a tug between the Professional Planners aboard and the City Council.One wants less density, the other more.

    Digging in our archives, I found this written May 14,2008
     in The Charlotte Observer.Looks like a good place to start.                                          Behind the Scenes by Scott Dodd
"Republished with permission from The Charlotte Observer.
Copyright owned by The Charlotte Observer. 

Published May 14, 2008

Zoning has its very own language

If you've ever been involved in a fight over a new development in Charlotte or come across a City Council meeting on the government channel, you've probably heard something like this:
"Petition No. 2001-30 for a change in zoning from R-3 and R-5 to CC, MX-1 and BP."
Roughly translated, that means a developer wants to build a shopping center, homes, apartments and a business park on a spot currently zoned for homes.
So why don't they just say that? Because NASA can launch a space shuttle using fewer abbreviations and acronyms than you hear at your average zoning meeting.
Planners and developers have developed their own language, just like people in most industries do. The difference is, from time to time regular folks have to try to figure out what's going on, especially if someone wants to build an R-43MF or a BP (that's a large apartment complex and a business park, respectively) next door.
In the hopes of helping you decipher what those people on the government channel are talking about, here's a partial glossary of planning terms that I've picked up during my stint covering growth and development in Charlotte.
CWAC: Pronounced "sea whack," this is Charlotte's "city within a city" program, which deals with economic development and quality-of-life issues in older urban neighborhoods and business districts. If you live inside the Route 4 loop, you're part of the CWAC.
ETJ: Extraterritorial jurisdiction, which sounds like something you'd hear on "Law & Order." Basically, it's an area outside a city's borders in which the city can control land use, in anticipation of future annexation. It's designed so that a developer can't buy land right outside of a city's borders to avoid city zoning rules.
MX-2, UR-4, MUDD-O, and a bunch of other confusing letter/number combinations: These are some of the more colorfully named zoning categories. Zoning ranges from R-3 (the lowest residential category), meaning you can build three homes per acre there, to UMUD (uptown mixed-use district), which allows 60-story office towers. In between, you've got everything from R-22MF (22 apartments per acre) to I-1 (industrial) to CC (commercial shopping center). These are the categories in Charlotte, by the way. They vary in other places.
PED: This is a special zoning category known as a pedestrian-overlay district, designed to preserve walkable neighborhoods such as Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood. It requires developers to build stores closer together and closer to the sidewalk, making them more inviting to people on foot. Right now the "ped" is only a concept - it hasn't been applied anywhere yet.
MUMPO: Pronounced like it's spelled, this is the Mecklenburg-Union Municipal Planning Organization, an appointed board that makes recommendations to the state about transportation needs, including where new roads should go. Other regions have their own MPOs.
2010 plan: Shorthand for the Center City 2010 plan, which envisions how uptown Charlotte should develop over the next decade. There are a number of other plans identified by dates, including the 2015 transportation plan.
GDPs: Charlotte's general development policies give planners and developers an idea where things should be built.
ZBA: Say your business is in a commercial zoning district that calls for you to have 100 parking spaces. But you don't think that's necessary. You can appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment and ask for a variance on that or a number of other requirements.

They use jargon, too, so good luck.

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