Articles about Environment and Planning

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Charlotte considers changes to tree, height, parking rules
   May 25, 2022
Ely Portillo

At a work session about the city’s new unified development ordinance this week, Charlotte City Council members repeated several phrases so often they sounded like mantras: Middle ground, finding a balance, and trade-offs.

The ongoing work illustrates the balancing – and sometimes the tension – inherent in translating a high-level document like the Charlotte 2040 Vision Plan approved...

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Car-free Life for a Family of Four in Delft, Netherlands
   May 18, 2022
Martin Zimmerman

Charlotte-based architect and urban planner Martin Zimmerman talks with Melissa and Chris Bruntlett about their latest book and their family’s first few years living and navigating Delft, a 1,200 year-old city in the Netherlands, mostly by bike, at speeds rarely exceeding ten miles per hour. 

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Listen: What's next for Charlotte transit?
   May 18, 2022
Ely Portillo

When WFAE, The Charlotte Ledger and the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute launched a joint newsletter last year to cover transit and transportation, we assumed that the main focus would be the 1-cent transit sales tax vote.

Well, that vote didn't happen and the transit plan is in a bit of limbo, but we've still found plenty to write about, from...

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Color and peace with spring wildflowers and migrants
   April 22, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the past two years obsessing over the squiggly lines charting COVID's peaks and troughs. I began to imagine the shape a graph might take if I plotted the occurrence of spring wildflowers and neotropical migrants.

I envision the wildflower display as two gentle but significant peaks – one in mid-March and the other in mid-April. Migrating  birds increase at...

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Outlaws and Bounties: Bradford pear edition
   March 25, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

Bradford pears are a problem. For years, I didn’t want to admit it. I’d drive the highways of the Piedmont and the backroads of the Uwharries in early spring, noting the occasional white-blooming tree at the edge of the woods and trying to convince myself they weren’t as invasive as privet. And then came the fateful day I spotted an eye-popping thicket on a tract of fallow land along Highway...

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Curating the future in Charlotte
   February 7, 2022
Ely Portillo

What if the future is not just a continuation of present trends, but looks radically different? That's the vision of Curators, a collective of young, multinational designers who hope to develop new, innovative and sustainable ways of life in Charlotte.

Join us as we talk about two pilot ideas they want to see happen in Charlotte: Controlled indoor farming powered by solar panel glass...

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More drive-thrus near the light rail? City decisions worry advocates
   January 19, 2022
Ely Portillo

Charlotte City Council on Tuesday approved two auto-centric developments in transit-oriented zones along the Blue Line light rail, a move some advocates fear will set a bad precedent as the city tries to move away from its dominant car culture. 

The developments — a Fifth Third Bank on Woodlawn Road with a drive-thru and a Chick-fil-A on South Boulevard near Interstate 485 — both won...

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Garden journals offer a window into our changing world
   January 4, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

At the beginning of 2021, I was on the hunt for an app to help me keep better records of my vegetable garden. 

After exploring several options, I decided they were all too cumbersome and fussy. If I provided all the information they demanded, I worried I’d spend more time on data entry than digging, planting, weeding and harvesting combined. So I kept using my tried-and-true, pocket-...

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Charlotte’s new focus on regionalism in transit brings more people to the table, but can they all agree on a vision?
   December 2, 2021
Ely Portillo
Tony Mecia

If all the pieces fall into place, some day in the future a new light rail train will pull out of the station at the Central Piedmont Community College Levine Campus in Matthews and head south into Union County.

It will turn down a two-lane country road lined with pine trees; run alongside U.S. 74, where there’s a stop at the Atrium Health Union West hospital in Stallings; then pull...

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Natural wonder: Reflecting on leaves, sky and more
   December 2, 2021
Ruth Ann Grissom

Editor's note: As we approach the climax of the hectic holiday season, let's take a minute to step back and reflect on that natural wonder all around us in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. 

At the beginning of November, I challenged myself to pause for a moment every day to contemplate and appreciate something in the natural world — a month of giving thanks.

I...

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