The Greensboro City Council denied a rezoning request for a small business that had no opposition at the Tuesday, Jan. 21 meeting.

It’s unusual for the City Council to deny a rezoning request that has no opposition. Lately the City Council has not even listened to the staff report on many unopposed rezoning requests. They are often passed with no staff report and no discussion.

This request for 2424 and 2428 W. Florida St. was actually a down zoning on 2428 from Commercial Medium (C-M) to Conditional District Commercial Medium (CD-C-M). So it was zoned Commercial Medium (C-M) with no conditions and the rezoning would restrict the uses with conditions. For 2424 W. Florida, the property would have been rezoned from single family residential R-5 to CD-C-M.

The City Council denied the request on a 7-1 vote with City Councilmember Justin Outling casting the lone no vote and City Councilmember Goldie Wells absent.

The request had been denied on a 6-3 vote by the Zoning Commission but, as in many cases, the property owner, Junji Yokota, had added conditions to handle both of the major concerns expressed by zoning commissioners. He added a condition to prohibit major auto repairs and one to require an opaque fence between the commercial property and the adjacent residential property.

At the City Council meeting, Yokota said that he wanted to use the property to do state inspections on vehicles and that was all. He did say that if minor repairs to a vehicle were necessary to get it to pass the inspection those might be made, but that he had no intention of doing major repairs, which would be prohibited by the zoning condition he added.

One issue that should have been resolved by the City Council was that Yokota is not a native English speaker and some councilmembers appeared to have a great deal of difficulty understanding his answers. Either that or they did not believe him because they kept asking the same questions over and over about major auto repairs.

Outling said, “If ultimately the concern is we don’t want to have this particular use, that use is still going there consistent with the current zoning.”

He noted that Yokota could start his business on the two-thirds of the property that was currently zoned Commercial Medium with no conditions, but by approving the rezoning the City Council would be adding conditions and allowing Yokota to have more space to operate his business.

What makes the City Council decision bizarre is that the main concern expressed was that Yokota’s business would start doing major car repairs even though a condition prohibited major car repairs.

However, because the property was not rezoned, Yokota can legally perform major car repairs on his property because it is a permitted use under the Commercial Medium zoning that now exists.

So much for being small business friendly.