Dear Charlotte Residents and Other Readers,
Charlotte has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country in recent years. This growth has established Charlotte as a vibrant and desirable city; however, this rapid development has also contributed to many challenges and the events of the last year have magnified many underlying issues that have faced the community for decades.
Most U.S. cities have a Comprehensive Plan to establish a desired vision for the future and a strategic policy framework. Charlotte has not had a Comprehensive Plan to guide growth and development community-wide since 1975. The Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan is our shared, comprehensive vision to guide the Queen City’s growth over the next 20 years.
“Charlotte is America’s Queen City, opening her arms to a diverse and inclusive community of residents, businesses, and visitors alike; a safe family-oriented city where people work together to help everyone thrive.”
The Comprehensive Plan is a living document that provides a policy framework that will guide our city’s decision-making and investment in both the near- and long-term. With this in mind, not all of the Plan’s recommendations can or should be implemented immediately. The Comprehensive Plan’s goals and objectives, as well as many of the policy recommendations, are intended to be implemented later in the 20-year plan horizon. In addition, several important recommendations and tools cannot be implemented without changes in State of North Carolina statutes. These recommendations are identified as long-term and requiring further conversations and coordination with formal and informal entities outside the City organization within the Plan document.
The planning process has been guided by a focus on equitable growth and by the residents of Charlotte coming together to prioritize what is most important to us. As a community-driven Plan, it seeks to address the inequities of the past, and unite the city around a shared set of goals for our future. With that said, the goals, objectives and supporting policies are intended to be achieved citywide and not on every single lot. A mature community like Charlotte that is facing additional growth pressures typically holds values important that can be interpreted as competing interests or even in conflict with one another. Not every property, project or development will be able to achieve all of the Plan goals and objectives, but as a whole the community has expressed a desire that the collective public and private investments made over the next 20 years strive to achieve as many aspirations as possible and make Charlotte an even better city.
The Plan lays out an Equitable Growth Framework that builds upon the community’s input regarding long standing disparities and inequities. For many existing policies and resulting practices, equity and the impact on our more vulnerable neighborhoods and residents has been an afterthought. The Comprehensive Plan is crafted through a lens of equity and with a commitment to thinking of our most vulnerable populations first with a vision of helping our city become a place where all residents can thrive, regardless of race, income, age, ability or where they live.
The Comprehensive Plan is organized into three documents.
- 1: The Plan Policy is considered the main body of the Plan and has been adopted by City Council. It includes three sections.
- The first section communicates the Vision and Values that were identified during the two-and-a-half-year community engagement process. It then lays out the Equitable Growth Framework and 10 community-driven goals.
- The second section outlines the elements of a Complete Community and introduces 10 Place Types that set aspirational direction for how development will contribute to placemaking and a variety of places will work together to create communities across the City of Charlotte moving forward.
- The third section provides the Policy Framework organized by the 10 goals. Each goal includes a set of measurable objectives, big policy ideas, and supporting policies, projects, and programs.
- The Plan Policy concludes with a Glossary of Terms and Acknowledgments.
- 2: The Implementation Strategy includes the initial Implementation Strategy to accompany the Comprehensive Plan. It provides strategies and tools recommended for plan implementation. This includes actions for the policies, projects, and programs; strategies for integration with other Plans; a framework for Community Area Plans and mapping; guidance for the Unified Development Ordinance, recommendations for Capital Improvement Projects, and how to track our progress.
- 3: The Manuals and Metrics provide more detail and background on the Equitable Growth Framework’s metrics and methodology, as well as more detailed guidance for the aspirational aspects of the ten Place Types. The Place Types Manual also provides guidance for Place Type Mapping and a community process for reviewing recommended Place Type designations.
What’s Next? Since the June adoption, City staff have begun to engage the community in mapping the land use policies within the Plan. This Policy Map will be adopted by Council to provide guidance on land use and public investment decisions and the zoning districts within the new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The Plan Policy was adopted on June 21st, 2021 and it is anticipated that the Implementation Strategy, as well as the Manuals and Metrics will be adopted in February/March of 2022 along with the Policy Map.
Implementation of the Comprehensive Plan will require continued engagement and conversation with the community. Tools to facilitate a participatory process, implement Plan policies, and mitigate potential negative impacts of growth pressures and strategies are highlighted throughout the Plan. In several instances, existing tools can be leveraged in better ways, but many tools will require evaluation and customization for Charlotte. The Implementation Strategy also includes the path to future plan amendments to help ensure the Comprehensive Plan remains current with Charlotte’s needs.
Before we close, we’d like to thank the people of Charlotte for contributing to a healthy discourse about the future of our great City. Varying opinions often lead to division, but our community worked to find meaningful compromise to unite around a single vision.
Vi Alexander Lyles
Marcus D. Jones