The two general use re-zoning requests at last week’s town council meeting caused quite the stir.
Residents who lived near each site wondered what type of development would go near their homes. But there were no answers because neither company had a site plan.
That caused a little confusion among town staff, council members and Garner residents.
Staff had no answers to residents’ concerns. Planning Director Brad Bass said developers usually request conditional-use re-zoning, meaning they file a request along with a plan detailing what they want to do.
“It’s not very often that we see general use re-zoning any more,” Bass said.
For Garner council members, when it’s time to make a decision on the requests, they’ll make a decision before even knowing the developers’ future plans for the property.
And for Garner residents, it’s hard to argue against a rezoning request, when there is no plan to argue against.
In the first request, Hoppers Community asked to have a site rezoned from R-20 to R-9. The uses for the zoning are nearly identical with the exception of agricultural use in R-20.
However, R-9 zoning allows for more houses on smaller lots sizes. So instead of 25 houses going on the 18 acres of land being re-zoned, the developer could now put up to 65 houses on that lot.
In the second request, the Halley Company asked the town to rezone their 100 acres of land, which was initially intended to have single-family homes and commercial development to a zoning that would allow multi-family homes.
Neither developer was ready to say exactly what their intentions are, but it would seem like a subdivision of single family homes was probable in the first and an apartment complex or townhome community in the second.
There could be as many as 600 apartment units if approved by the council. But if not, there is still the possibility the developer could build 300 single family homes, along with commercial development.
The representative of the developers, Stephanie Norris, said the reason the developers used the general-use re-zoning was because of timing.
“The developer had to meet certain real-estate contract obligations,” Norris said. “It wasn’t to be secretive in any way. He had to meet his contract or he would have to walk away from a lot of money.”
“We would prefer to go through general,” Eric Rifkin, project manager for Halley Company, added. “It’s quicker. It’s a lot less work on the front end.”
Last week’s re-zoning cases raises the question of whether the council wants to allow developers to apply for general use re-zoning, when there is so much uncertainty involved in it.
“Do we want to allow those to proceed the way they are headed or do we want to request that they come to us with plans so we know what we are getting,” council member Buck Kennedy asked the council, “and so those with the most questions can see exactly what’s being voted on when the re-zoning is voted on.”
But attorney Bill Anderson interjected.
“You can table it and move it aside, or you can just deny it,” Anderson said. “There’s all kinds of things you can do, but I don’t think you can get very much mileage out of trying to make them bring a site plan in and show it to you if they’re not into spending $100,000 for engineers right now and landscape architects or what a lawyer would cost.
“In terms of telling them, ‘No you’ve got to bring a site plan in and show it to us,’ that’s just full of problems.”