New draft of Charlotte ordinance changes property owner dos and don’ts

CHARLOTTE — The rights of Charlotte property owners could be changing as city leaders undertake one of their biggest endeavors.

The Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO, has massive implications for Charlotte residents and developers, from building standards to tree removal rules.

This week, the city of Charlotte presented changes to the UDO made in its second draft. Notable alterations include the fees for removing trees, limitations on short term rentals in the city and building standards within neighborhoods.

Channel 9′s Joe Bruno unpacks the full impacts in the video at the top of this page and below:

Trees

The first draft of the UDO proposed a permit requirement to remove any heritage trees in the city. These are trees that are larger than 30 inches in diameter that aren’t dying or in danger of falling down.

Property owners would have been required to pay a $1,000 fee for removal, and in some cases mitigation would’ve been required and new trees would need to be planted.

In the most recent draft, the city slashed that fee in half and for every tree planted in place of the one removed, another $250 can be taken off the bill.

“This is a brand new frontier for regulations as for these types of situations, we don’t have any current regulations on trees in these scenarios today,” said Alyson Craig, Charlotte’s interim planning director. “This will allow us to better understand where canopy losses are occurring in our single-family areas.”

The city says property owners will always be allowed to remove a tree, but a permit will still be required.

“There is a balance,” said Julie Eiselt, Charlotte’s mayor pro tem. “For every one person who feels it’s too restrictive, there’s going to be somebody else who feels that it’s not restrictive enough, especially when you’re talking about trees, parking, etc.”

Short-term rentals

The UDOs first draft called for a mandatory permit to operate any short term rental, like an Airbnb. They also wanted short-term rentals to be spaced at least 400 feet from each other.

A ban on parties and events was also proposed.

All those requests have been removed.

The new draft strips all regulations on the short-term rentals.

The decision was due to a ruling by a court of appeals that declared similar regulations in the city of Wilmington to be invalid.

“We certainly heard a great deal of comments from the community both concerns, that these are really important sources of income for individuals as well as neighborhoods and residents concerned about just the impact that it was having in their community,” Craig said. “t’s something that is important to address, we just don’t have the legal clarity to write the regulations in a way that provides that kind of certainty.”

Sidewall Restrictions

Under the old order, a maximum height restricted sidewalls of buildings to 12 feet or the average height of sidewalls on adjacent buildings.

Some homebuilders feared those regulations were too restrictive to build new duplexes and triplexes.

To adjust, the city is now extending the maximum height to 20 feet.

“By increasing that sidewall height, it will allow two story duplexes and triplexes and that was really prohibiting those types of structures which is fairly common in Charlotte,” Craig said. “I think this really helps to better balance being able to bring additional housing into our community while also working to maintain the character of the of our neighborhoods.”

(WATCH BELOW: Here’s why CMPD is no longer enforcing city ordinances)