Sale barn rezoning fails
Alderman Rhoads leaves council room before vote
By Robin Mero
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE — A request to rezone the Washington County Livestock Auction property failed the Fayetteville City Council by a 3-4 vote on Tuesday.
The four aldermen who were opposed expressed concern about compatibility of the request, which was to downzone nine acres from Industrial to Downtown General. Dozens of neighbors and military veterans spoke against the rezone because apartments for college students are proposed and the property is immediately across Government Avenue from the Fayetteville National Cemetery.
One alderman who left the meeting may have changed the outcome.
Alderman Robert Rhoads left the meeting during public comment and was outside the council room immediately following the vote.
“I had to leave for a personal matter,” Rhoads told a reporter, who asked where he went. When asked how he would have voted, Rhoads said, “In favor.”
In a tie, Mayor Lioneld Jordan would cast a deciding vote.
City Clerk Sondra Smith said Rhoads told her before the meeting he would be leaving early and would return.
When Rhoads was asked if he considered requesting the council wait for his return before voting, he said, “[Alderman] Bobby [Ferrell] was trying to slow things down.”
When the mayor was asked if he considered moving to another agenda item or taking a break until Rhoads returned, he said no.
Alex Eyssen, regional development partner for developer Campus Crest LLC, said his group will be considering options during the next several days.
“We are obviously disappointed. We feel we made a good faith effort to present a development consistent with the longterm goals of Fayetteville. We still are very interested in coming to Fayetteville and feel the city and university have a need for luxury student housing,” Eyssen said.
In explaining their decisions, aldermen who voted against said the zoning request didn’t seem compatible with the neighborhood.
“I really feel this is not compatible with the adjacent neighborhood. ... I am a supporter of modest neighborhoods. ... It’s a nice little neighborhood,” Alderman Shirley Lucas said.
Alderman Kyle Cook said he’s often preached the importance of density during his seven years on the council.
“I’ve gone back and forth on this one. While I am very supportive of Downtown General, I don’t think it’s right for this piece of land,” Cook said.
Aldermen Sarah Lewis and Brenda Thiel also didn’t like Downtown General for the property.
“There have been a lot of good points on both sides of this issue, but I don’t think this project does well in this location. I’d rather see some type of mixed use,” Thiel said.
The developers insisted the rezoning met all city goals under its 2025 Plan, including infill, revitalization and encouraging a traditional town form of development. The planning commission voted 6-1 to recommend approval of the project, and the city’s planning staff supported the rezone.
The project would have had an $8.6 million impact for the city during the first year and $1.6 million per year thereafter, developers said.
Alderman Matthew Petty voted in support of the rezoning.
“It would be easy to vote no; it would be the politically convenient thing to do,” Petty said. “This is on the edge of the neighborhood. It fits the very definition of what Downtown General should be. ... We don’t have too many apartments in Fayetteville; we have too many apartments in the wrong places.”
Aldermen Adella Gray and Robert Ferrell also voted in favor of rezoning.
The council also tabled a vote on proposed ordinances to regulate activities of rock quarry and red dirt mining facilities within a one-mile radius of city limits, to prevent annoyances and injury. They heard a great deal of public comment about the issue but want to refine language of the ordinances before moving forward.
News, Pages 1, 5 on 09/16/2009
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