Developers eyeing campus area lots; planning board denies initial requests
By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
The Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission voted down two recommended rezoning requests Tuesday night after members of the Tar River University Neighborhood Association came out in opposition to the changes.
Both request were located in the area just east of East Carolina University’s main campus. One would rezone three residential properties on the south side of 10th Street just west of Elm Street for potential multi-family development. The other would allow for development of a parking lot on a residential lot on Sixth Street adjacent to campus.
Mike Baldwin, who represented the owners in 10th Street request, said no definitive plans had been made for the property, but noted that some of its value derived from its close proximity to campus and the ability for students to walk there.
According to Chantae Gooby, a planner with the city of Greenville, the request was in compliance and appropriate with the future land use and horizons 2020 plan. She said the area south of 10th Street was recommended for high density multi-family because of existing uses. Currently, two sorority houses and a student apartment complex border the areas around the requested rezoning.
Contention about the rezoning was mostly related to its location in the 100 year flood zone. The property backs up to Green Mill Run and much of it is in the flood way, making it unfit for development per city code, detractors argued.
About 30 residents of the nearby neighborhood came out in opposition to the request, saying it was irresponsible for any development to take place on the property, because it would worsen flood conditions.
“I think a decision to build in this area would be a major step backward for the city of Greenville,” Susan Redding, a resident of South Elm Street, said. “It flies in the face of science, geology, everything that we know that will happen — that already has happened. We were here for Floyd, for Matthew, these problems aren’t going to go away they’re only going to get worse.”
Baldwin argued that the city had done extensive research on flood plains and mitigation tactics, which any development would be required to follow. He said it was shortsighted to not understand city staff would still enforce requirements designed around these studies and ensure the safety of residents.
“Some of the comments here say if we allow development here we’re wasting tax payer money on these studies,” he said. “I disagree, I think if we don’t allow proper development in the 100 year flood plain, then we wasted tax payer money on adopting the flood prevention ordinance.”
The commission split on the request, voting 5-3 to recommend denying the request. Hap Maxwell, Kenneth Wilson, Margaret Reid, John Collins and Betsy Leech voted against the request. The City Council will consider the request at a later meeting and may overrule the commission.
The second request to rezone a quarter acre lot on the southern right-of-way of East Sixth Street adjacent was contested by the same group of neighbors.
According to Baldwin, who also represented owners in the second request, the applicant planned to turn the lot into a parking lot for students. The parking lot would likely house 25-30 spots.
Gooby said the request again in compliance with city plans, but would bring an increase of 84 trips per day through the area.
Residents of adjacent Maple Street and the surrounding neighborhood said the future land use plan, which allows office residential zoning the lot and adjacent area over residential zoning was fundamentally wrong.
Gooby said because several nearby lots were owned by the university, and another parking lot was just north, the plan assumed office residential would eventually move into the area.
Baldwin also argued that the use was completely reasonable for the area, especially in light of the nearby uses.
Homeowners however believed the rezoning would be a blight on the atmosphere of the neighborhood, as well as create a traffic nuisance and lessen land value.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend denying the request.
Both requests are expected to go before the City Council in June.
Contact Seth Gulledge at Sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579.