A rezoning request for a residential development on McConnell Road across the road from Innisbrook Village Apartments hit an unexpected roadblock at the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15 in the Council Chambers.
The 34-acre site in unincorporated Guilford County is zoned agricultural, and the request from Evolve Companies was to annex and rezone the property Planned Unit Development (PUD) for a 150-unit detached housing complex that was described as a new concept in workforce housing.
Madison Carroll of the Carroll Companies, which owns Innisbrook Village Apartments, as well as this publication, spoke in favor of the rezoning request.
The motion to deny the rezoning passed on a 6-3 vote. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Justin Outling, Michelle Kennedy, Goldie Wells, Yvonne Johnson and Sharon Hightower voted to deny the rezoning for workforce housing.
Amanda Hodierne, with Isaacson Sheridan representing the developer Evolve Companies and the property owner, noted that the area was designated as Mixed Use Corporate Park by the Greensboro Comprehensive Plan and that included a mix of residential, retail and hotels.
Hodierne gave examples of a number of corporate parks that included residential developments in their boundaries. She noted that the most famous corporate park in the state, the Research Triangle Park, had recently, and at great expense, started retrofitting that corporate park with residential developments.
It appeared Hodierne had convinced at least five city councilmembers that residential development at that location would enhance rather than hinder the development of a corporate park.
Then a report by the Timmons Group done for the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance came up. Outling said that this area was identified in that report as one of the 16 sites available for industrial development in Guilford County and Outling added, “This particular area was identified as being one of the top of the top sites.”
Outling said that because this had been identified as one of the top sites for future industrial development he would not support the rezoning request.
Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann disagreed saying, “I totally dismiss the implication that taking 33 acres out of a mass of 1,000 acres is going to make any significant difference.”
Vaughan echoed the point that Outling made and noted that, according to the Timmons Report, Guilford County didn’t have many large areas with water and sewer, favorable topography, soil conditions and everything else needed for industrial development.
Vaughan said, “We know that down the road there could be a better offer.”
Wells, who had earlier said she was in favor of the rezoning request, said that she hated to vote against housing but she didn’t want to do anything that would stop jobs from coming to East Greensboro.
The only speakers against the development were members of the Clapp family that own and farm much of the land in the area and want the area to remain agricultural.
But the reason the rezoning request failed was that the majority of the City Council saw this area as prime for a far more intense level of development than the present agricultural designation, the proposed residential or even the mixed-use corporate park designation in the Comprehensive Plan.
This is the third rezoning request on this small stretch of McConnell Road this year. In May, the City Council had two rezoning requests one on either side of Innisbrook Village Apartments and it approved the rezoning for Penske Truck Leasing Company 9-0 and denied a similar request from Linder Industrial Machinery 9-0.
So far it’s difficult to see any consistency from the City Council with rezoning requests on this portion of McConnell Road. If the idea is to preserve the land for industrial development, why did the council approve Penske; and if it isn’t, why didn’t it approve the other two?