One of the more unusual zoning requests in years is coming before the City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The request itself is not unusual, nor is the reason for the opposition. What makes it unique is the actions of City Councilmember Sharon Hightower, who spoke against the zoning request before the Zoning Commission and is so opposed to the zoning request that she tried to stop the public hearing that will be held on Feb. 18.
The request is fairly standard. The property owner, Demetrios Dascalakis, is asking for 18.7 acres at 389 Fairystone Dr., currently outside the city limits and zoned Guilford County Residential Single Family (RS-30), to be annexed and zoned to Residential Single Family (R-5). The land is mostly vacant with a few single-family houses.
The Comp Plan currently designates almost the entire tract Industrial/Corporate Park with a small portion Moderate Residential. If the original zoning request is approved, the Comp Plan will have to be amended.
The original zoning request was for multi-family and was approved by the Zoning Commission by a 7-2 vote. However, the City Council delayed its vote on that request because of opposition from the neighborhood. So Dascalakis withdrew that request and made a new one for single-family residential, but the neighborhood opposition did not go away. Nor did the opposition of Hightower.
Dascalakis at the Zoning Commission meeting said that he had had threats from the neighborhood and that the neighborhood didn’t want the land developed at all.
Those in opposition agreed that they didn’t want anything developed on the land and one of their main concerns was traffic.
The Planning Department staff recommended in favor of the request for the R-5 zoning and it was approved by the Zoning Commission on a 4-2 vote.
So Dascalakis has had two favorable votes from the Zoning Commission for residential development of the area and now goes before the City Council where he knows at least one councilmember, Hightower, is opposed.
Sharon does like to attempt to throw her weight around. Why should a property owner have to keep land vacant to appease neighbors. Didn’t they get to build their houses? Why should others be denied that same right to own a home (or rent a home)? Are landowners just supposed to keep vacant land so others can walk their dogs, ride their dirt bikes, hunt deer, etc.? Perhaps the landowner will keep the land undeveloped if all the neighbors pitch in to keep it cleared and trash free, pay the taxes, etc. Let’s start by asking Sharon to kick in her portion.
To get Mrs. Hightower’s approval, you have to show her where it is to her personal advantage. Perhaps if Mrs. Dascalakis were to bring a visual aid, such as a baby in arms, then Mrs. Hightower we be more supportive.
This is my opinion of course, and I could be wrong.