Mar 1, 2023 - Development

Neighbors push to save bald eagles from impending development in south Charlotte

Photo: Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A petition to stave off the development of a sprawling retirement complex near Piper Glen in south Charlotte has gained more than 4,300 signatures over the last few days. Advocates point to a pair of nesting bald eagles as one reason they’re asking city leaders to vote “no” on an upcoming rezoning request.

Why it matters: Communities frequently push back on plans for new housing development, citing everything from traffic to preservation of green space. Neighborhood opposition is frequently one of the main hurdles local governments face with ushering in new housing options. City leaders must balance those concerns with addressing the demand for housing — which only grows as our population swells.

Between the lines: Bald eagles aren’t exactly a common sight in the Charlotte area.

Context: Real estate investment company RK Investments wants to rezone 53 acres for a retirement community with up to 1,100 units, site plans show. The property is on the east side of Elm Lane and west side of Rea Road, south of Bevington Place.

  • Amenities onsite could include a swimming pool, a clubhouse, a dog park, trails, benches and a lake, per the site plans.
  • The land is owned by The Gillespie Family Limited Partnership and Elm Lane Holdings, as CBJ reported last summer.

What they’re saying: The neighbors’ petition makes a number of arguments against the density that the proposed development would bring, including that the area does not have the infrastructure adequate to support a development this size.

  • They also note that the development would disrupt the habitat of a number of animals in the area, including beavers, coyotes, deer, raccoons, opossums, hawks, owls, Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons, among others.

“It is of utmost concern that a pair of American Bald Eagles who have called Piper Glen home for the last two decades are also in jeopardy, as the development will come within 900 feet of their nest … they have maintained for 16 years or more and will destroy a large portion of their natural habitat,” the petition reads.

Charlotte City Council member Ed Driggs, whose district 7 includes the property in question, said the city’s review of the rezoning petition will include an investigation into the possible impacts on protected species.

“I’m sure the local interest in the eagles will serve to focus their attention on that species, but it is too early to say what weight that will carry in deciding the future of the petition. It should be noted that the petition cites other important reasons the signatories have for opposing the petition,” Driggs told Axios in an email.

  • He added that he does “not intend to support it in its current form.”

Developer RK Investments did not respond to a request for comment.

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