The Story of Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek

In 2014, the town government under Mayor Kleinschmidt adopted a new zoning code that governs real estate development in the 200-acre Ephesus-Fordham district. Among the flaws in this code is the lack of any vision for creating a central community amenity that will attract people to the district and help spur commercial revitalization at the northeast gateway to Chapel Hill.

The new Mayor and Council members are seeking ways to remedy this defect in the code, and we can look to other cities for inspiration. For example, over the past several years the city of Charlotte has turned an eyesore and source of chronic flooding into a community treasure.

Ten years ago, Little Sugar Creek in Charlotte had the worst water quality of any creek in North Carolina. Its natural flow was partially obstructed. It had been covered in places with asphalt, concrete, even a shopping mall, just like Chapel Hill’s Booker Creek. In 2008, the City and County undertook an ambitious stream restoration and greenway project to improve Little Sugar Creek’s water quality and to create a trail to serve as a destination for tourism and recreation.

On the evening of October 26, Crystal Taylor-Goode, who managed the Little Sugar Creek restoration project for the City of Charlotte, gave a presentation at the Chapel Hill Public Library in which she described the history of the project, including the factors that contributed to its success and the lessons learned.

The video of Ms. Taylor-Goode’s  lecture is here:

If you’d like to see Chapel Hill undertake a similar project that would entail restoring a currently impaired section of Booker Creek and transforming it into a park-like community amenity for the Ephesus Fordham district, write to your elected officials and let them know.

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