Charlotte, NC

Monday in Charlotte: City mulls social districting, another CMS gun, Panthers draft decisions and more

Collin Cunningham
If Charlotte leaders open the doors for alcohol-allowed social districts, Plaza Midwood would be one of the first areas under consideration.(Courtesy of Charlotte's got a lot)

By Collin Cunningham

Greetings, Roundup readers, and welcome to a new week and new month! It is Monday, May 2, and today's mostly sunny skies and 88-degree high might put Charlotteans in the mood to be social. City Council is considering a new ordinance that would allow visitors to consume alcohol in previously off-limit areas, called social districts, and debut a 2023 budget proposal.

We also recount a pair of weapons recently discovered at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools before discussing the Panthers' draft decisions, which will see the team get social with a new quarterback, linebacker, defensive end and more.

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1. Council corner: Charlotte leaders to introduce budget, discuss social districts, drop short-term rental requirements

What's happening: On Monday, Charlotte City Council has a special budget meeting to discuss a proposed fiscal forecast for 2023 and in future sessions will consider changes to the way residents drink and use services like Airbnb and Vrbo in the city. Here are brief rundowns of each looming issue:

Budget brewing: When City Council convenes at 5 p.m. on Monday to hear City Manager Marcus Jones' initial ideas for a 2023 budget, the group will see if the city intends to spend more than the $2.7 billion laid out in its 2022 budget. Likely to be considered in the proposal are city workers' request for a 10% wage increase to account for rising costs of living as well as a tax increase to keep low-income Charlotteans in their homes. The meeting will take place at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center and stream online at the GOV Channel.

Short-term strategies: A North Carolina court ruling hamstrung Charlotte officials' attempts to attain greater oversight of short-term rental properties like Airbnbs. At-large Council member Dimple Ajmera told WSOC that he's heard requests from city residents to put a damper on late parties and additional traffic attributed to the lodgings.

We reported last week that the city was looking to remove a proposed requirement from its 608-page Unified Development Ordinance regarding how far such rentals can be placed from each other. The city will drop the considerations, however, after the state Supreme Court ruled against the city of Wilmington's rule compelling renters to register their homes with the municipality on Friday.

Social districting: A pandemic-initiated trend of opening up previously restricted areas of a city for alcohol consumption could be coming to Charlotte. Dubbed social districts, and different from the innovation district approved in December for the city, the alcohol-accommodating areas allow the city to open public parks and streets to drink-toting residents.

Nearby communities like Kannapolis, Cornelius and Greensboro were quick to adopt the zones after Gov. Roy Cooper put his name on a bill that allows cities to shape their own districts in September. All three regions reported at least some increases in business due to the legislation, and District 1 Council Member Larken Egleston said neighborhoods like Plaza Midwood, North Davidson and South End could be ripe for open container ordinances.

2. Students with guns: BB gun, loaded firearm found at CMS
Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology is a four-year CMS high school specializing in math and computer science.(Courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools)

Over the past week, the body scanners recently installed at seven Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools high schools started to pay off when one of the security devices contributed to district staff finding a loaded gun on a student entering the district's Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology.

According to a district representative, police arrested one learner after they triggered the metal detector at the high school in west Charlotte on Monday morning. The weapon seizure brings the district of nearly 150,000 students to a tally of 29 guns found on campus since the school year began. The news comes within two weeks of former Superintendent Earnest Winston's termination from CMS after he promised scanners to 14 addiitonal schools; Ardrey Kell High School installed its new equipment on Friday, per WCNC.

School employees also confiscated a BB gun at Independence High School in east Charlotte on Thursday but did not identify any threats made against students or workers.

3. Draft decisions: Who did the Panthers pick?
Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer called the team's acquisition of NC state tackle Ikem "Ickey" Ekwonu a "best-case scenario."(David Becker/Getty Images)

Amid controversy surrounding the Carolina Panthers' planned $800 million practice facility in Rock Hill and possible efforts to replace quarterback Sam Darnold, the team emerged from the 2022 NFL Draft with a new tackle, QB, linebacker, defensive end, guard and cornerback. Read up on each of the six rookies below, and click on their names to see college stats.

Heading out of NC State, the 6'4", 320-pound Ekwonu is one of the standout members of the team's new cast, with Walter Football saying the Cardiac Cats "made the right choice" with the 21-year-old offensive player.

Apparently backpedaling on reported attempts to acquire Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Panthers managed to corral QB Matt Corral in his first year out of the University of Missisippi.

With one final "We are," Penn State sent defensive player Brandon Smith down to North Carolina.

A Virginia Tech graduate, Amare Barno will join fellow Panthers linebackers Dameon WIlson and Cory Littleton in holding down the team's defensive sector.

The University of Tennessee will provide the Panthers with another defensive player, Cade Mays, after his excited run-in with former team quarterback Cam Newton. Mays shared a plane ride with Ekwonu over to Charlotte, so he may have already established some rapport with his new teammate.

Tucked into the corner slot during the 2022 season, Baylor University's Kalon Barnes will join his second team coached by Panthers shot-caller Matt Rhule, who was at the Waco, Texas University between 2017 and 2019. He started in 10 of the 12 games the Baylor Bears won out of their total of 14 in 2021.

More Charlotte news on May 2:

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

Charlotte, NC

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