Shortly after unanimously passing the New Garden Road Strategic Plan at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17, the Greensboro City Council voted to deny a controversial rezoning request at 1302 New Garden Road.
The only real question left when it came time to vote was whether the vote to deny would be unanimous. It wasn’t. The motion to deny passed by an 8-1 vote with Councilmember Sharon Hightower voting no. Hightower said she was voting no because the City Council had rezoned property on Franklin Street from residential to office over her objections.
The request was from Kim Reittinger to rezone a house she owns at 1302 New Garden Road from Residential Single Family (R-3) to Conditional District-Office (CD-O). At the Zoning Commission meeting Reittinger represented herself and the vote to deny the rezoning request passed by a 7-1 vote. Reittinger didn’t speak at the City Council meeting and was represented by Matthew Cheney, an attorney from Winston-Salem, who was asked some tough questions by city councilmembers.
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said, “I drive by the house every single day and, based on the number of vehicles, I question whether it is being used as single-family residential.”
Cheney, after consulting with Reittinger, said that there were no zoning violations filed against the property and it had been inspected several times.
City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann said, “This property doesn’t look at all like this photograph.” She was pointing to a photograph Cheney had handed out to the city councilmembers.
Cheney had repeatedly assured the City Council that the house would not be removed and the intent of his client was to have a real estate office in the building that was already on the property.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “There was no condition that the house would stay.” She added, “The house could come down and she could build a structure 40 feet high.”
Usually at rezoning hearings applicants are not allowed to make promises that are not part of an enforceable written condition. The conditions in this rezoning did not restrict the use to a real estate office, nor, as Vaughan pointed out, did they require the current structure to remain.
The Robin Ridge neighborhood came out in force to oppose the rezoning request, noting that the City Council had just passed the New Garden Road Strategic Plan to protect neighborhoods and this was commercial encroachment into their neighborhood.
The City Council almost unanimously agreed.