East Charlotte residents voice concerns over Independence Blvd expansion
Posted on 13 Apr 2011 by Larry Shaheen Jr.
Raise your hand if you know your representative on the Charlotte City Council, Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, Mecklenburg County School Board, and the NC General Assembly.
Anyone? Anyone? Nobody! Well that’s no surprise. Only about 10%-15% of you would have put up your hand. In Charlotte knowledge of your local elected officials is not something that most folks need on a day to day basis.
Yet, that does not make it any less important. Our local government is made up of several bodies that decide issues from diverse as development planning to school assignments. Basic knowledge of the issues coming before our local bodies can help you plan for business and be aware of issues that can affect you and your family.
Over the past fifty years governmental bodies have attempted to do everything they can to fix the rapid and steady decline in the East Charlotte residential and business community. For good or for ill, the plan to turn Independence Blvd. into a freeway with rapid transit has been one of the main issues in the redevelopment of this area.
The Charlotte City Council, the elected body that handles most of the matters concerning the administration of the city of Charlotte shares the responsibility of planning for the development of this road. Yet, there are a large numbers of folks who are concerned with the plans as laid out. (ref the development plan here)
There is disagreement over whether the freeway has caused the downturn in development of the area, but what there is no disagreement over is the fact that the drive from downtown to Sharon Amity looks pretty desolate. The City Council is working hard meeting with citizens and makesure that all sides are being heard from. City staff and City Council members, especially District 5 rep Nancy Carter are trying to work with the citizens to come up with a plan that addresses both the needs for rapid transit along Independence, but that also provides for sustainable development that benefits the neighborhoods and communities affected.
At a public hearing last night at the City Council on the Independence development plan several residents voiced their concern over the plan, but walked away bitterly disappointed fearing their cries will continue to go unheard by their representatives. Several folks expressed their disappointment with process. Ultimately, the public hearing only had one person come out in favor of the plan.
East Charlotte resident Chris Bakin and several other residents who spoke out against the transit plan at a public hearing last night wish to see light rail or a trolley go down Independence as opposed to the buses that currently run now. They cite the development along South Blvd and the revitalization of Dilworth and South End as a measuring stick by which they hope to see redevelopment along South End.
Some folks reading this may ask, Why should I care about what happens in a part of Charlotte that I never go to or visit?
Well the answer is very simple. Anything that happens in Charlotte, especially an issue as far reaching as this one, will ultimately impact the economic development opportunities of business and residents for the entire city. We as citizens have to make sure that our voices are heard to make sure that decisions like the one facing City Council, over whether to approve the development plan for Independence, need to be made with all citizens input because if it fails we will all pay the price.
The city council has now closed the public hearing, but the development plan will continue to move through City Council committees and will come before the council for a vote soon. The future of development and residential communities in Charlotte’s East Side will be determined by the path this road development takes. Whether they see any improvement in that area in the future will largely depend on the decisions made by City Council so stay tuned, stay informed, and keep coming back here for updates on the political issues in Charlotte and how they will affect you!