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Aerial of Charlotte, North Carolina Skyline

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Charlotte City Council members are torn over a comprehensive plan for single-family zoning. One of the most outspoken of the group is Braxton Winston, who believes the zoning had helped segregate American cities with the same happening in the Queen’s City. He called the initiative “a tool of segregation” and told Charlotte to “stop being racist” in a tweet last week.

Not having any residential-type projects on the books will hurt Charlotte in the long run. The cost of living has been steadily trending upward in the city for years. And without a plan for new affordable housing, families will be put in a vicious cycle of apartment dwelling at a much higher price point than a traditional mortgage on a house.

One person who sees the need for a single-family zoning plan is fellow council member Victoria Watlington. She told WFAE some of her constituents are worried that new construction costs will push out current residents and rebuked Winston’s comments.

“My concern and the concerns of my constituents is that we are not going to be able to ensure that people have home ownership opportunities at affordable rates in the areas that — up until a couple of years ago — you could find a house below a couple hundred thousand dollars,” Watlington said.

She said Winston’s comments about single-family zoning being a racist ideology are “embarrassing, frankly, for our elected officials. It demonstrates a lack of understanding and knowledge and nuance and a lack of understanding of what our constituents actually want.”

I said this before: the Charlotte City Council needs to have a residential zoning plan for hard working middle-class families as part of addressing economic growth. We can’t keep sustaining progress without affordable housing in safe neighborhoods. If only multi-family units and industrial developments are being built, we’re putting ourselves in a situation for a short-term gain with long-term consequences.

Braxton Winston believes keeping Charlotte affordable is somehow “racist”, but he’s missing the real issue. It’s not about race to help out the people in this city of every ethnic background. We’re talking about building towards the future with a plan to do so. Not a series of mistakes that will leave Charlotte’s leaders scrambling to react in twenty years. That’s an irresponsible approach for one of the fastest growing cities in America.