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Jan 20, 2008

Comments

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Dave Ribar

I'm not sure what the zoning board's objection was, but there appear to be several things in favor of the rezoning.

  1. The property is directly on Friendly Avenue, a major road into downtown Greensboro.
  2. The property is VERY close to the I-840 extension.
  3. It also nearby a tremendous amount of commercial development, including the airport.

In all, this seems like a place where you would want to site higher density housing.

Perhaps there would be some way to modify the plan to address on-site environmental concerns like the pond.

Ed Cone

Dave, discussion of the rezoning (item 17) begins at about 2:33:30 of the 1/15/08 city council meeting, which can be found at the page linked beneath the word "brought" in the post above.

Sue

Perhaps near the top of the list of consideration should be how many high-density apartment complexes are on that road / within a half-crow-flies mile from that location already... and how many have "available" signs on them now. I have no dog in this fight (mine are chewing happily nearby me), but it seems from a strictly citizen POV that apartments are not what's needed or wanted there. I have no bigger-picture map or adjacent-ness to highways or commercial airport pre-plans, but more unrented apartments simply aren't called for in that space.

bubba

What caused Barber to recuse himself?

Ed Cone

I don't know what caused Barber to recuse himself, Bob -- he says at the beginning of the discussion that he's doing so after discussion with counsel, due to "direct or indirect financial interest." The neighborhood rep I've spoken with did not know the specific nature of the conflict. It is an interesting question, and the answer might give further insight into the close relationships between developers, lawyers, and pols...

FWIW, I have heard that Bob Shaw previously opposed rezoning of this land on the grounds that it was wetlands, but have not documented that.

Dave Ribar

The comprehensive plan calls for higher density development on that site. There are also at least two other developments at roughly the same density (CD-RM18) nearby along Friendly Avenue--one just outside I-840 and another to the east of the development. The site is bordered by a RM12 site to the east and a school to the south. There are attached homes (RM8) across Friendly Avenue. There is even light industrial development in the area. So, while there is "a neighborhood of single-family homes," the area is changing toward higher development.

The city planning staff support the rezoning. The proposal narrowly failed to pass the zoning board, 5-4.

The proposal itself calls for 228 apartments on just over 13 acres.

The developers have accepted several conditions on the property, including a buffer zone along the residential boundary.

Ed Cone

As I said in the column about the Haw River Park and its possible aftermath, you start by winning the ones you should win, and that was the most one-sided public issue I've ever seen around here.

This one is more complicated, to be sure.

The point I'm trying to make is not that every rezoning request should be denied, but that neighborhood groups and citizens with concerns about development are newly empowered to stand up to the real estate business.

Look at the corner of Lawndale and Cornwallis. The Walgreens struck people as a bad idea, and the opponents shut it down quickly -- but the conversation as it emerged was not "do nothing there" but "do something better there."

That's the conversation I hope technology and organization will allow us to have. Sometimes the answer may be the plan as proposed. Sometimes better alternatives won't be viable because nobody will fund them. The point is to have stuff get an honest look, not just a nod and a wink by a complicit government.

Spag

They are all intertwined, here and elsewhere. Yet, people keep electing them.

Dave Ribar

You're right that getting an honest look is the most important thing.

With any luck, the time between now and the next city council meeting will give both sides an opportunity to compromise.

Anonymous

I think given the surrounding multi-family homes around that end of Friendly Avenue and large amounts of industrial development, I really can't fathom what else the property would be used for other than one of those two options. That "dead end" of Friendly is not exactly a destination for retail shoppers.

Tommy Starnes

I am the last house on Forsythia dr, which butts up to the property of the old Friendly Rd Inn. The neighborohood is not opposed to the development of the land, just the addition of 228 apartments. First Baptist church (of which I am a member) owns half the land, Bob Shaw the other. If this is voted down there will be a Korean mission church built on the site. I also cant comprehend how Mega Builders, Inc. can fill in 2/3 of a spring fed pond and call it retaining. Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciatted.

Scott

Dave, to comment on some of your notes: yes, there is no question that multi-family housing will continue and should continue to develop along the W Friendly corridor. However, the question here is about placing an RM-18 complex IMMEDIATELY next door to an established (1950's) neighborhood consisting of approximately half acre lots. The buffer that was offered was 30', plantings and a 6' fence. Shielding 3 story buildings 30' off the property line with a 6' fence is like trying to hide an elephant behind a postage stamp. If you ever had the pleasure of eating at the Friendly Road Inn, you know how beautiful that property is. Let's put in a multi-family community of less density and take advantage of the beauty of the property. Mega Builder's plan to fill in most of the large spring fed pond in front of the restaurant has got to be stopped. RM-18 works somewhere along Friendly but not in this specific location. The adjacent properties all along Friendly are zoned RS-12, RM-12 and RM-8.

'Compromise' is a word that Mega Builders will not use with this project. When Mega's attorney and representative met with the area neighbors, the first thing they wanted the neighbors to understood was that there would be no compromises, period. It was their way or no way. They stated that they were only meeting with the neighbors to discuss buffers. I appplaud your idea of compromise, but sadly, it's not going to happen with this Mega project. Too bad they can't meet their profit margin with quality instead of quantity.

The RM-18 development to the east of this site is Turlington. While it is zoned RM-18, the zoning came with conditions actually limiting it to RM-12. The RM-18 to the west of I-840 is an ideal location for that density. West of I-840 is also where the light industrial development is. I-840 is a good dividing line for high RM-18 density. Keep that type of development to the west of I-840.

Don't let the city put the highest density housing in the area looking down on the lowest density Hillside/Forsythia Dr homes.

Colin

The planning staff did support the rezoning. They did say in their remarks that the density should be reduced adjacent to the 50 year old neighborhood and that it was somewhat incompatitable. Cindy Hayworth who is a member of the rezoning said "...if it is imcompatible, it's incompatible"...
There are also statements in the 2025 plan that states that we should not destroy the surronding neighborhoods.
This is a beautiful piece of property and we know that it will not go un-developed for long. We would like to see a responsible developer make a harmonous adddition to our existing neighborhood. Ten 3 story buildings looking down upon single family homes is far from harmonous.

LHKelly

I would like to know the reason Mike Barber recused himself also. Then we have the question of ROBBIE PERKINS who will be at the Feb 5 Council meeting. He should recuse himself because the company he owns has made a very low offer--about half the asking price--on the Bogan property. This property is about a 3 acre piece directly adjoining the property to be rezoned. Having the rezoning of the Shaw/Baptist Church property so that 10 3 story buildings--228 apartments could be built would definitely be in his interest since the Bogan's could not get the amount of money they are asking. The builder's father, Mike Winstead, Sr has already admitted this in an email sent to the Bogans when he pulled out of his offer to buy their property and build town homes there.

The city attorney, Ms. Peterson-Buie is aware of this conflict of interest and it is in direct conflict with the "code of conduct" required of Council members of which we have a copy. Will she do her duty and uphold the law or is she bought and paid for by builders,developers, etc. also?

Sandy

I would like everyone to understand that just because you may see other RM-18 or even RM-12's in this area both West and East of 840....They have conditions limiting density and ground coverage. All of the multi-family homes East of 840 on Friendly Ave are no more the 12 units per acre and everything immediately around this property is ranging from 3 to 9 units per acre. Three story buildings next to single level-singly family homes is not a blend and certainly not a fit. Density of 18 units per acre is at least double. IT DOESN'T FIT and no amount of buffer, plants, trees or fence will make it fit. If Mega builders can't come up with a development plan that compliments and fits the neighborhood, they are just not the right developer for this property. The rezoning should be based on what's right for the neighborhood ...not the developer's needs.

Colin

This rezoning proposal is consistent with a number of Connections 2025 goals and policies. It promotes compact development, mixed-income neighborhoods, and the diversification of new housing stock to meet the needs for suitable, affordable housing. This request is also compatible with the High Residential land use classification on the Generalized Future Land Use Map of the Comprehensive Plan. However another Plan policy is the protection of established neighborhoods from potential negative impacts of development (noise, light, etc.).

Staff has noted that this request is more intense than previously approved rezonings in the general vicinity. Most of the zoning districts to the north and east of the proposed development are generally CD-RM-12 and CD-RM-8 districts. Staff is most concerned with the relationship of the proposed development to the adjacent single family neighborhood directly to the west. The applicant has informed staff of the intent to add the following additional conditions:
• All exterior lighting in the parking areas shall be directed towards the interior of the property.
• The planting yard along the western line of the subject property shall be a minimum of thirty (30) feet wide.
• The planting rate within the planting yard along the western line of the subject property shall be double the required "C" yard planting rate. The planting yard shall include evergreen understory trees and be placed at the top of the slope, to the extent feasible, to provide a visual screen to the adjacent properties to the west.
• All buildings shall be limited to three (3) above ground stories.

Due to the intention to add the above mentioned conditions staff feels that the potential incompatibility with the single family neighborhood to the west has been somewhat minimized. Alternatively, reducing the density would also be a way to further minimize the potential incompatibility.

The above statements were taken from the Planning Departments staff report reqarding this issue. My question is if this project is incompatible with the existing single family neighborhood why would your department approve it?

Cindy Hayworth a the January 15, 2008 planning meet atated "...if it is incompatible, it is incompatible".

LHKelly

Remember the water problem last summer that's still w/ us? According to City Water Resources we use 7-9 units/person/quarter on average. Define average family as 2 adults and 2 children. So you would need to define the number of people (4), multiply that by 8 avg units and then divide that by 3 to get average MONTHLY consumption in units which is 10.666. In APARTMENTS REQUESTED WHICH IS 228 TIMES 10.666 would be 2,431.848 units/month. Since a UNIT = 748 gallons, then 2,431.848 units = 1,819,022.304 gallons per month. FOR 1 YEAR THIS WOULD BE 21,828,267.648 GALLONS. WHERE FROM????

That's just for these 228 units. So, why is the city wanting to build these and well as wanting to build, build, build, all over the city when the homes already built aren't getting enough water and the solution to this problem is unknown?

The only reason I can think of is to make money for the builders, developers, and real estate folks. Someone is not thinking logically. Is it YOU?

Dave Ribar

LH:

And those folks will use less water if they are in townhouses or individual homes?

The alternative to a few high density units is lower density housing and sprawl.

If you want to cut down on growth in some areas, like the new addition to the Haw River State park, you need to allow higher densities in other areas.

Colin

2 quick comments:

1. There is one complex that is zoned RM-18 East of Painter Blvd. However, it is conditioned to 12 units per acre. The builder is Michael Windstead Sr. It is also 2 story. Please drive by and take a look at it. It is on the corner of Friendly Avenue and Friendsway.

2. This builder's attorney made it clear to us that there would be NO negotiations. The project would be built as planed or they would withdraw it. Supposedly they can not make a profit if it is less dense.

LHKelly

Dave Ribar:

You entirely missed my point regarding the amount of water the 228 apartments would use. Why does the City continue to build new structures all over town when there is a serious water problem already for the residents we have. Why not a moratorium on building ANYTHING? The answer, of course, is MONEY for the builders, developers, and real estate people--many of whom sit on City Council and County Commissioners. Rather than being civic minded, they vote for making money for themselves.

Dave Ribar

LH:

Where do you propose that the growing population should live? A building moratorium inside the city would just push the development outside the city, which in turn would make the traffic, infrastructure, pollution, and other problems worse.

A moratorium would also eventually push prices on available properties up. This might be nice if you own a home but isn't as nice if you don't or if you care about your children being able to afford a future home.

We've got a national economy that is grinding to a halt--i.e., has stopped or nearly stopped growing. A moratorium on building here is the best policy that one can imagine for slowing the local economy down.

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