Good Question: What is Charlotte’s 2040 plan?

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A hot topic at city council meetings is – what will Charlotte look like in the future?

It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve had an issue that has so publicly fired up Charlotte city council.

Hut the 2040 Comprehensive plan has certainly done it.

City council members have questioned whether city staff should keep their jobs.

“I think we could all hopefully agree you don’t put something out publicly and run it down without knowing at least how your Council Members are going to react to it,” City of Charlotte councilman Tariq Bokhari said. “That’s unacceptable. And that alone is probably a fireable offense.”

Another council meeting this week turned a little nasty and personal.

The 2040 plan is designed to map out a plan forward for Charlotte.

How do we grow?

How can we do it smartly and equitably?

And what should our neighborhoods look like?

That’s been the big one.

Housing affordability is a major issue in the city and the plan thinks we can up the supply of more affordable living by increasing density by limiting single-family only zoning.

The back and forth has led to not only harsh words but some tweaks to the plan.

And we just got a look at the newest version. This leads us to our Good Question

What kind of power does this document have once it’s passed?

It’s been going through plenty of motions and votes but once all is said and done, what happens?

Alex Giles asked Sam Spencer, on the City of Charlotte planning committee, about the future of Charlotte in this week’s Good Question Podcast.

Spencer said it is not some set-in-stone law.

“It is really a plan that takes what we have been thinking about as a community - the conversations that we’ve been having, and honestly, the questions that we’ve asked been asking ourselves about. What is the best way to move forward? What is the best way to govern? A growing city like Charlotte that’s going to add, you know, we’re going to add as many people as like in the entire City of Asheville over the next 20 years. How do we plan for that many people to join our city and what do we want that to look like? So that’s what the comprehensive plan does. "

Alex Giles asked Spencer if this plan is supposed to outline goals, and not necessarily set policy.

“Yeah, that’s absolutely correct,” Spencer said. “So for example, there have been some questions about changes to zoning regulations in the comprehensive plan. The second the City Council passes this comprehensive plan, nothing changes about what you do with zoning in Charlotte. That has to be spelled out and that has to be worked out in our Unified Development Ordinance. So, one way to look at it is the comprehensive plan is an aspirational document. It’s a gold document. It’s a road map, but you still have to put the keys in the car. I turn it on shift and drive and get where you’re going.”

Sam Spencer said this is actually the first kind of comprehensive plan the city has had. It’s a whole new undertaking.

So he explained to Alex Giles this whole process - how are they putting this plan together and how many people are working on it.

In the end, though, it really comes down to you and to compromise.

You can listen to more of Alex Giles conversation with Sam Spencer on this week’s Good Question Podcast.

Each week Alex Giles speaks with people who send us questions and gets answers from an expert.

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