Potential environmental concerns at proposed affordable housing site

Concerns of pollution clouds proposed apartments

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte City Council is considering a 230-unit affordable housing complex off South Tryon Street near John Price Road in Steele Creek.

Nashville-based Elmington Capital presented its plans for the complex Monday night at Charlotte City Council.

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The 10.5 acres of land is currently vacant but is zoned for industrial use. The proposed project would be near similar properties.

Charlotte planning staff is advising Charlotte City Council to vote against the project because it goes against the Steele Creek Area Plan. According to the Mecklenburg County Land Use and Environmental Services Agency, within a half-mile of the proposed development there are 12 facilities that are known sources of air pollution.

“Many industrial uses can be considered incompatible with residential uses due to regulated air emissions and other common features of industrial uses such as odors, dust, noise and truck traffic,” planning staff wrote in its pre-hearing analysis.

Charlotte City council members also voiced concerns about the project.

Because of the environmental concerns, Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera is worried about the quality of life for the potential future residents. She worries about sending a message that it is OK to have affordable housing at an industrial site.

“My concern is around the kind of environment we are providing to future residents here,” Ajmera said. “I am not comfortable at this point to supporting this.”

Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield, who represents the area, also voiced environmental concerns and worried about the precedent of changing the zoning of an industrial area to residential.

“Negative long-term impact when we could have made a different decision is what I am trying to avoid,” Mayfield said.

How much council members will value the quality-of-life concerns when making their decision is unclear. Industrial and environmental issues aside this is the type of affordable housing project that Charlotte City Council wants.

“We want neighborhoods where people can work, where people can live and play,” Councilman Braxton Winston said.

“What you're proposing steps into the arena of what we are trying to address,” Mayfield said.

Developer Joe Horowitz said they worked with MCAQ to review the 12 alleged air pollution facilities and his development team is not concerned.

“We take information like that seriously; we certainly looked into it,” Horowitz said. “We feel the facilities won’t have an adverse impact.”

If approved by Charlotte City Council, the developer is planning to seek tax credits and support from the city’s Housing Trust Fund.

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