Usually property is rezoned to allow some kind of change, but on Monday, Dec. 16, the Greensboro Zoning Commission approved a rezoning so everything could stay just like it is.

The property at 901 Spring Garden St., the home of VanderVeen Photographers, which is right across the street from College Hill Sundries, was rezoned from Commercial Neighborhood (C-N) to Conditional District-Office (CD-O) by a unanimous vote of the Zoning Commission.

Bert and Rebecka VanderVeen, the property owners, requested the rezoning because they didn’t want to change the property use and couldn’t keep it like it had been for decades under the current zoning.

The problem was that 901 Spring Garden, on the corner of Spring Garden and Mendenhall, is a commercial building with a “dwelling unit” – what most people would call an apartment – in it. According to Amanda Hodierne of Isacson Sheridan, the CN zoning district allows dwelling units as an accessory use if the dwelling unit is on a different level, but she said, “The existing zoning district Commercial Neighborhood does not allow the mixing of uses in a horizontal fashion, all on one level.”

The building at 901 Spring Garden is a one story building so the dwelling unit was on the same level as the commercial use – VanderVeen Photographers – which is not allowed in CN zoning districts but is allowed in Office zoning districts. It does raise questions about the purpose of that particular clause in the zoning ordinance and also exactly how much vertical separation is necessary to comply. For example, would half a floor be sufficient? Or what about three feet?

Hodierne said that their research indicated the dwelling unit had always been a part of the structure, which was built in 1958 as a light industrial building, and the Vanderveens discovered the problem when they were renovating the building.

Hodierne said that both the College Hill Neighborhood Association and the Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously in support of the rezoning request to allow the property to stay as it is.