As it turned out the fourth time was the charm and the City Council voted 6-3 to rezone 2.3 acres at the intersection of Lawndale Drive and Lake Jeanette Road despite strong neighborhood opposition.
At the second virtual meeting of the City Council and the first virtual meeting where public hearings were conducted on Tuesday, April 21, the City Council approved the request to rezone the property from Residential Single-Family-3 (R-3) to Conditional District-Commercial-Low (CD-C-L)
The rezoning request was heavily conditioned with several of the most restrictive conditions being added since the rezoning request was voted down unanimously by the Zoning Commission in January.
One of those conditions limited the site to office uses, which means no retail or restaurant could locate there under this zoning.
Marsh Prause, the attorney representing the developer Kotis Properties, said the most likely use for the land would be a medical office of some kind, but noted that there was no tenant, so they didn’t know exactly what would be built.
The conditions also limit the buildings to a maximum of 22,000 square feet and set a maximum building height of 30 feet.
Councilmember Justin Outling said, “This is very different than what was presented and understandably rejected by the Zoning Commission.”
Prause, as he did before the Zoning Commission, noted that, despite many attempts, representatives of the neighborhood had refused to meet with him or the developer to discuss possible options for the property.
Aaron Terranova, the president of the Lawndale Lake Jeanette Neighborhood Association, had a different point of view. He said that the neighborhood association wanted the land to remain zoned residential and they weren’t interested in discussing other options, although they would have been willing to discuss different residential options for the property.
Prause said that they had come a long way from the original intent in rezoning the land, which was for Conditional District-Commercial-Medium (CD-C-M) and would have allowed a fast food restaurant or a service station with a convenience store. But he maintained that residential uses would not work on this site at the intersection of major and minor thoroughfares.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan noted that the Devonshire development was being built right next door. She said, “I do think there were better alternatives and I do think residential is a possibility.”
Vaughan and Councilmembers Michelle Kennedy and Sharon Hightower voted against the rezoning request.
Because this was a virtual meeting, councilmembers voted by roll call, which meant they had to turn their microphones on to vote yea or nay. Hightower, as one might expect, also often took the opportunity to make a few comments about her vote. After asking a couple of questions she said, “No. It was going to be yes but I changed my mind.
This was the fourth and only successful attempt to rezone this property since 2007.