Members of the Historic West End community are petitioning against a rezoning request to build industrial property in their neighborhood.
Developers of Lakemont Property Investors, LLC have asked city officials to rezone 41 acres of single and multi-family housing near the Wilson Heights Neighborhood (2099 Bishop Madison Lane) to install a 400,000-square-foot facility for warehousing, distribution, manufacturing, and office use.
Community members were informed of the proposal, but many oppose it.
Ron Ross, a member of the Historic West End Neighborhood Association, is one of the lead organizers of a petition that has gathered nearly 100 signatures so far from residents in the area.
Ross said Charlotte’s Historic West End has been victim to a number of rezoning proposals from developers over the years, some of which have been passed with what he said is a lack of neighborhood awareness.
In the wake of gentrification and tax increases, he said the community wants to be more intentional about what projects are coming to the area.
“It’s important that the community engage and voice their opinions in regards to this project,” he told QCity Metro.
Developers presented the proposal to neighborhood residents during a community meeting in July, Ross said.
After disapproval from residents, the developers are tasked with revising their plan to re-present to the community members.
Since then, Ross said, no updates have been given.
Reuben Flax, the Wilson Heights neighborhood president, has lived in the neighborhood since 1963 and has served as neighborhood president for over a decade.
Flax said he believes developers haven’t taken the time to hear the communities’ concerns. He described the proposal as a “moneymaking project.”
Developers held a virtual question-and-answer session with
community members in August.
Flax said no one had the chance to ask their own questions on the call. Instead, developers answered “scripted” questions they were told had been called in, Flax said.
Many of the responses were focused on job opportunities the project would bring.
Flax told QCity Metro it seemed like the developers were talking about what they thought the community wanted to hear, rather than allowing them to speak or ask questions themselves.
Ross, who is also involved with the Historic West End Green District, said increased industrial-use property has impacted air quality in the area.
The Historic West End Green District was created in partnership with Clean Aire in 2017 to provide air quality monitors for homes and plant more trees in the area.
“The biggest problem is that our community has like the highest concentration of industrial facilities in Charlotte,” Ross said.
“That wreaks havoc on the environment that’s in our community.”
Flax is also concerned that property taxes will go up because of the proposed project, causing many residents to move out of their homes.
“I don’t want to go nowhere else. I don’t want to be run out of here, “ he said. “Nobody else wants that either”.
Flax said he and Ross reached out to developers to get an update on their revised proposal, but they haven’t returned his calls or emails.
“As far as what’s [happening] on their end, we have no idea because they’re not corresponding with anybody,” he said.
The full rezoning process involves pre-submittal meetings, application submission, staff review of the proposal, community engagement, and a City Council decision with the Zoning Committee providing a recommendation.
“The petition has not been withdrawn, but there has not been any movement on the plan since June,” Maxx Oliver, a project coordinator for rezoning at the City of Charlotte, told QCity Metro in an email.
Oliver said he hasn’t received any revision updates in several months. The next revision deadline is November 13, which would send the rezoning proposal to a December City Council public hearing.
Oliver said developers have until March 2024 to resubmit their proposal, or their submission will be withdrawn from consideration.
QCity Metro reached out to the developers for comment, but they did not respond to our request.