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Frequently Asked Questions


Why do we do area planning?
Area planning grew out of the 1980 Urban Symposium. Symposium participants requested more detailed, comprehensive planning for specific areas of the City and County, as up until that time, most long range planning was done on a countywide basis.  

The goals of today's area plans are similar to those of the past. They aim to:

  • Involve the community in developing a long-term vision for the area

  • Address how the area should be maintained or changed in the future

  • Identify future land uses in an overall community wide context
  • Recommend future infrastructure improvements
  • Provide urban design guidance
  • Provide implementation guidance as to the private and public investments and strategies that should be pursued to realize the vision for the area
  • Set what the future street cross-sections will be for specified street sections, if it is to be different from what is recommended per the Urban Street Design Guidelines

Area plans have also changed over time. In particular, today's area plans differ from those of the past in that they:

  • More thoroughly integrate transportation and land use considerations
  • Include more complex data analyses due to technological improvements like Geographic Information Systems
  • Provide a greater level of detail, especially regarding land uses and intensity
  • Have a much greater emphasis on design

What are the different types of area plans and how do they fit with other policies and plans?

Click here to open a PDF document illustrating the relationship among Charlotte-Mecklenburg's policies and plans.

How do I find out more information about district plans?

With the adoption of the 2005 Generalized Land Use Plan in 1985, Charlotte-Mecklenburg was organized into seven districts to facilitate the preparation of detailed land use and physical development plans.  These plans, referred to as district plans, were originally developed for each of the seven planning districts between 1986 and 1992.  Click here to learn more about district plans.

To view Charlotte-Mecklenburg's districts, with associated adopted land use, please click on the link to adopted future land use maps.

What is the difference between the land use recommendation in an area plan and zoning?

Area plans are policy documents. They address land use issues and define how land should be used in the future. The future land uses adopted as part of an area plan are policy, not regulatory.

Zoning designations are legal requirements, which determine how parcels of land may be used.  When property owners want to develop or use their property in ways that do not conform to their current zoning regulation, they must apply for a change in their zoning classification, also referred to as a rezoning. Zoning regulations, and the rezoning process, are often a key part of implementing area plans.


What is the difference between existing land use and the currently adopted land use?
Existing land use refers to how property is currently developed. The currently adopted land use plan specifies the land use that the City has determined to be most appropriate for a parcel in the future, as specified in the most recently adopted plan. For example, a property may be currently developed with an apartment building (the existing land use is multi-family residential), but the currently adopted land use may be for office development.

Can area plans be changed or updated?

Areas can sometimes change dramatically over time. Changes can result from unanticipated development, a shift in demographics, market conditions (i.e. closing of a regional mall), impacts of state and federal funding of infrastructure projects (i.e. light rail and highways), or other unforeseen circumstances.  

Plans can be amended or changed through the plan amendment process. Similar to the development of an area plan, a plan amendment includes a thorough analysis of issues and public involvement.  

Plans can also be amended through the rezoning process. Rezoning is the process of changing the zoning classification on a parcel of land. Land owners may request a rezoning if they want to use their land in a manner that is inconsistent with the current zoning classification. Any request for a rezoning is evaluated against the currently adopted land use for the site. If a rezoning petition is approved, it amends the adopted plan and becomes the new adopted land use for the site.

How do I find out if there is an existing plan for a specific area?
All property within the City of Charlotte 's sphere of influence is included in one of seven district plans. It may also be covered by an area plan, which updates the district plan. A listing of completed policy plans, district plans and area plans is available on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department website. Some of the plans are available to download; others can be requested by calling the Planning Department at (704) 336-2205. There is a fee associated with hard copies of the plans.

How can I request that an area plan or plan amendment be developed for my area?

To request an area plan or plan amendment you must submit an application to the Planning Department. Applications are available online or by calling the Planning Department at (704) 336-2205.

How does the Planning Department select the area plans and plan amendments it will work on each year?
Because planning staff typically receives many more requests for area plans than they have resources to accommodate, the Area Plan Assessment Process was developed to define and prioritize where planning efforts are needed and where resources should be focused. Each January, an interdepartmental team reviews and requests based on considerations, such as recommendations of previous planning initiatives, increases in rezoning activity inconsistent with the adopted plan, policy changes, demographic changes, transportation/infrastructure improvements, and gaps in planning initiatives. Selected plans are then incorporated into the work program.

How do I determine the currently adopted land use for a parcel?
Select from the appropriate district, below, to view maps of the currently adopted land use in Charlotte-Mecklenburg by district. Also refer to the applicable plan for further detail on the appropriate land use. Note that maps are are only current to the date on the map. For the most up to date information on adopted land use, please contact the Planning Department at (704)336-2205.

Legend for Future Land Use Maps

 Central District
 East District
 Northwest District
 South District
 Southwest District
 Northeast District

How can I become involved in an "in progress" area plan?

If there is an area plan already in progress for your neighborhood and you are interested in learning more about it, please contact the staff contact for that plan. Contacts and a list of existing and in progress plans can be found on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department website.






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For more information regarding Area Planning contact:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department
600 East Fourth Street (8th Floor)
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Phone: (704)-336-2205
Fax Number: (704)-336-5964