Fire Tower Road rezoning request approved but a second vote is needed
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Friday, February 15, 2019
Mayor P.J. Connelly cast the deciding vote to approve a request to rezone nearly 13 acres of land on East Fire Tower Road at Thursday’s Greenville City Council meeting.
However, a second vote must be taken in March to finalize the approval, City Attorney Emanuel McGirt said.
Council rules say ordinances that change rezoning must pass by a two-third majority vote, excluding the mayor’s vote, McGirt said. Without the two-thirds vote, a second vote must occur. That vote only requires a simple majority.
Council was asked to rezone 12.9 acres adjacent to Meeting Place subdivision from residential-agriculture to office-residential (high density multi-family). The change would allow a developer to build an apartment building with about 150 units, according to staff.
Council members Rose Glover, Will Litchfield and Will Bell voted for the rezoning request and Rick Smiley, Monica Daniels and Brian Meyerhoeffer voted against it.
Residents in nearby subdivisions opposed the request because building an apartment complex would add hundreds of cars to East Fire Tower Road where traffic already exceeds its designed capacity. There also were questions about launching the construction of an apartment complex as the state transportation department begins construction to widen Fire Tower and Portertown roads.
Scott Anderson, an engineer working with Bobby W. Joyner, the property’s owner, said no development plans are currently in place. Under questioning from Smiley, Anderson said it would take about two-and-a-half years to design, permit, build, market and lease units. Smiley said the transportation department plans to start construction on the widening project in 2021.
“I think this action is premature. I don’t dispute at some point the land will be developed,” Smiley said, adding he does not think the time has come.
“I have a tough time not moving forward with a rezoning request that’s in compliance,” Litchfield said. Both the city’s planning staff and Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the request.
Smiley said he thought council was glossing over the potential traffic problems, especially complaints neighboring homeowners had about the difficulty making left-hand turns in and out of their neighborhoods.
Meyerhoeffer asked staff if they had any worries about the apartment project.
Traffic engineer Richard Dicesare said that since the state soon will begin the widening project, he had no concerns.
“If the DOT project wasn’t in the design phase with a set date for letting (bids) we would have a whole other discussion,” Dicesare said.
“Growth is going to hurt sometimes but growth is good,” Connelly said at the end of Thursday’s meeting.
Contact Ginger Livingston at email@example.com or 252-329-9570.