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The City of Charlotte is calling for all residents to look toward the future and help create how Charlotte will grow over the next 20 years. 

Charlotte has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, establishing the area as a vibrant and desirable place to live. However, city officials said the rapid development has also contributed to many challenges. To sustain growth, city leaders say it requires intention and strategy. 

Residents are invited to attend “Drive into Charlotte’s Future,” a drive-in community meeting where city staff will unveil its draft Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Residents will be able to give their feedback on how Charlotte is developed over the next two decades before the plan is presented to city council for adoption in April. The city’s planning, design and development department is hosting the Covid-safe, family-friendly event this Saturday in the parking lot of The Park Expo in east Charlotte.

Why it matters

Charlotte has not drafted a comprehensive plan since 1975. Since North Carolina does not mandate what a comprehensive plan should look like, Charlotte has been able to get by with submitting area plans. Assistant City Manager and Director of Planning, Design and Development Taiwo Jaiyeoba said, as a result, Charlotte created plans for specific city districts instead of an overall plan. Jaiyeoba said in a press conference Tuesday that the city has nearly 100 plans that lack cohesion.  

“The concept of that [a comprehensive plan] might be foreign to people, so we wanted to create that period of time for folks to create and engage in conversations with us reviewing the document and going back and forth in terms of feedback,” he told reporters.

In 2018, city staff began an in-depth, two-year process of listening and talking to residents about their priorities for the future of Charlotte. A comprehensive plan presents a vision for the future with long-term goals and objectives that guide how local government develops the city.

When asked how the city will address the effects of systematic racism, Jaiyeoba said the plan includes 10 goals, with two of the goals focused on restorative justice and future investment in communities of color. It also includes 10 benchmarks related to housing access for all, transit development, fiscal responsibility, neighborhood diversity and inclusion.

“For example, we discussed redirecting about 50% of public dollars to build infrastructure in vulnerable communities over the next 20 years,” Jaiyeoba said. “We talked about being deliberate to address the issue of housing and in communities of colors — specifically Black people.”

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt chimed in to point out that part of the plan to address systemic racism and bring restorative justice will include where the city decides to place green spaces and public spaces.

“As we know, disenfranchised neighborhoods, African American neighborhoods have not had access to green space,” she said. “This allows us to look at our resource planning, work with Parks and Rec, and to say we need more neighborhoods, we need more tree canopies in our neighborhoods that in the past have been neglected.”

What to expect

Saturday’s event will feature live entertainment, community feedback sessions and touch-free treat stations with candy since it falls on Halloween — people can dress up in costumes if they choose. 

While in their vehicles, event staff will guide guests to information booths and presentations where they will learn about and discuss the draft plan. The last station will feature a live DJ and a brief stage presentation from city staff. To vote and participate during the meeting, organizers recommend downloading the Kahoot mobile app.

The meeting will be available in four identical sessions. Session four includes a “Back to the Future” movie screening. 

To help people better understand the comprehensive plan, city staff also contracted local game maker Michael Zytkow to create a card game called “Charlotte Future.” Spectrum News reported that staff has already ordered 1,500 copies of the game that they plan to give away to the public. 

Session Times

Session 1: 2-2:45 p.m.
Session 2: 3:30-4:15 p.m.
Session 3: 5-5:45 p.m.
Session 4: 6:30-9 p.m.

For more information and to register for the “Drive into Charlotte’s Future” community meeting, visit Spanish translation services will be provided.

Janey Tate is QCity Metro’s multimedia reporter covering west Charlotte, culture and small business. The Miami native loves Erykah Badu, "Martin" and all things from the Black ‘90s and early 2000s...

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