A controversial rezoning request will force City Councilors to consider the city’s policy of limiting development in the Falls Lake watershed.
Planning Commissioners Tuesday voted 6 to 3 to recommend that City Council deny a request to building in the watershed, and tasked the Strategic Planning Committee with creating a standard of approval for higher-density developments in watershed areas.
Commissioners Mitch Fluhrer, Joseph Lyle and Lemuel Whitsett voted against the denial.
Jarrod Edens, of Edens Land Corporation, requested the rezoning to construct a housing development on the property.
He said the proposed development would be constructed as a conservation development, but area residents and Commissioners had concerns about the impact the rezoning would have on water quality and the surrounding area.
Typically, watershed properties are zoned residential 1, or one house per acre. The request would have bumped up the density from one house per acre to about one and a half.
The increase in density, said Edens, is to make up for the expense of running a sewer pump station.
Commissioner John Buxton did not want to set a precedent with the rezoning request.
“I still am left concerned that as a board looking at the broader planning and development of the city, we are left pretty exposed,” Buxton said. “I am not clear why we’re looking to increase density in the watersheds.”
Commissioner Joseph Lyle disagreed.
“This is not a policy that we are going to make by voting for or against this,” Lyle said. “I believe we need to have a stance on this issue which makes, moving to Council, a stronger point than denial.”
Resident and former Planning Commission member Bob Mulder said he was concerned about placing constant pressure on the watershed.
“These pressures are going to continue and more and more people are going to want higher density in these watersheds,” he said. “With low-impact development you have to have engineered stormwater solutions. They’re eventually going to fail.”
The Strategic Planning Committee will discuss allowing higher-density development in watersheds and create a standard for approval.
The full Council will decide at its next meeting this Tuesday whether to schedule a public hearing for the rezoning. If the Council opts not to schedule a public hearing, the application will fail automatically.
Enterprise Car Sales Coming to Glenwood Avenue
Glenwood Avenue could get another car dealership, this time on the vacant lot that once housed an Italian restaurant.
Commissioners approved plans for an Enterprise Car Sales on Glenwood Avenue between Pleasant Valley and Creedmoor roads.
The 3,000-square-foot sales building and 540-square-foot service bay will be located on the site of the former Ragazzi’s restaurant.
Ed Sconfienza, principal engineer on the project, said Enterprise will have fewer hours and less traffic than the restaurants that previously occupied the property. The service area will only be used for cleaning cars, not for maintenance.
While some area residents spoke out in support of the project, others were not sold on it.
Several neighborhood residents, including Bonnie Hopkins, expressed concerned about safety and the potential for test drives to go through the adjacent neighborhood.
“I can’t think of anything worse than a car dealership at the entrance to my neighborhood,” Hopkins said. “I think we have a big safety concern.”
Geoff Durboraw, vice president and general manager at Enterprise, said Enterprise is willing to work with neighbors to address concerns about test drive.
“We would be willing to put something in writing via some letter form that would describe precisely how we would operate those test drives,” he said.
Several neighbors, including Fin Gold and Dutchie Sexsmith, spoke out in support of the project and Enterprise’s willingness to work with them.
Resident Kyle Hampton said, “They appear to want to be a good neighbor to us.”
New Rex Hospital Parking Deck Approved
Commissioners approved plans for a four-level parking deck on the Rex Hospital campus. The parking deck will be located on the northeast corner of Blue Ridge Road and Lake Boone Trail.
The new parking deck will be constructed on an existing surface parking lot and will have 404 parking spaces.
The new parking deck is part of an effort by Rex Hospital to improve parking and traffic flow on the Rex Hospital campus.