The Greensboro City Council broke with its long-time practice of approving every annexation and original zoning request on its agenda at the Tuesday, June 20 meeting.

The City Council, by an 8-1 vote, denied the annexation request from Renaissance Church Gate City Inc. for annexation and original zoning at the corner of West Gate City Boulevard and Scotland Road.

Councilmember Goldie Wells voted against the denial.

Since the annexation was denied, there was no need for the City Council to vote on the original zoning request, which was from Guilford County mixed-use and residential to conditional district–public and institutional for 7.3 acres.

The pastor of Renaissance Church, Jason Goins, spoke on behalf of the annexation and zoning and explained that the plan was to build a church and an office building on the site.  The office building would provide offices for the church staff but would also have about 50 individual offices to rent out to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Goins said the church considered providing office space part of its outreach to the community.

The Greensboro planning department recommended in favor of the request and the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the annexation and CD-PI zoning request.

The neighborhood opposition turned out in force, filling most of the available seats in the Katie Dorsett Council Chamber.  The well-organized opposition to the request stated similar objections to those that are usually heard and ignored by the City Council.

The main objections from the neighbors were traffic, not having sufficient buffer between the proposed uses and the residential neighborhood and a lack of communication between those in opposition and representatives of the Renaissance Church and the neighborhood.

One major difference in this neighborhood opposition and the usual neighborhood opposition is that the vast majority of the neighbors in opposition are not residents of Greensboro. They don’t pay Greensboro property taxes and can’t vote in Greensboro municipal elections.

According to the proposed development plan, the two buildings would be oriented toward Gate City Boulevard but the entrances and exits from the parking lot would be on Scotland Road and Queen Alice Road.

It appeared that the applicant was under the impression that the buffering requirements set by the zoning ordinance would be considered sufficient and did not offer additional plantings, fences or other means of providing additional buffering for the neighborhood.

Councilmember Zack Matheny said, “I think this could be easily solved with a continuance.”

But he received no support for that suggestion.

Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann seemed to express the view of the majority of the City Council when she said, “Sometimes it is necessary to go beyond the minimal to make a project successful.”