The Greensboro City Council appeared to establish a new policy at the virtual meeting on Tuesday, Oct 20 – when faced with a tough decision – punt.

The council had two zoning requests that it found difficult. In both cases, rather than settle the matter, the City Council more or less forced the zoning applicants to come back later.

The two zoning cases – one on Scott Road for an American Heritage charter school and one on Glendale Road and Holden Road for affordable housing – had some similarities. Both were straight zoning requests, which means there were no conditions.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I always think it is best to condition the application and I think most applications should have conditions on them.”

A condition is simply an additional restriction on how the property can be used. If there is one condition, then an applicant can add more conditions pretty much right up until the final vote.

That knowledge would have been beneficial to Bishop Adrian Starks of World Victory International Christian Center who had applied to rezone 39 acres the church owns on Glendale and Holden Roads from Conditional District Public and Institutional (CD-PI) to Office (O). The opponents argued that with straight O zoning over 400 houses could be built on the land.

The plan Starks presented does have up to 90 multi-family affordable housing units built on 6.8 acres of the land and he asked that he be allowed to revise his request so that only the 6.8 acre tract for those apartments be rezoned, not the entire tract. Starks could not add conditions but he could reduce the acreage being rezoned. Or he could ask that the acreage be reduced, but the City Council refused to vote on his request.

The opponents didn’t like the new reduced acreage plan, so Vaughan encouraged Starks to request a continuance. Since it is a straight rezoning, Starks cannot add conditions, unless he starts the rezoning process all over.

Starks did fair better than Bob Dunston, who was representing Charter Development Company and had requested annexation of 48 acres and a Residential Single-Family-5 (R-5) original zoning for the purpose of building a new National Heritage charter school on the land.

The one opponent mainly spoke about how bad the existing traffic was on the road, but also noted that the Charter Development Group could build houses on the site.

Dunston repeatedly said his company only built schools, but Vaughan strongly encouraged him to withdraw his request and start over. If all goes well, the same plan will be before the City Council under a different cover with conditions in January, which is as quickly as the annexation and zoning process can make its way back through the system.

The City Council approved with little comment straight rezoning requests with no conditions both before and after it heard these two cases.