The Zoning Commission meeting on Monday, Oct. 21 may not have been unprecedented, but it was highly unusual and, according to some government experts, improper.

During the period for opposition to speak, Greensboro City Councilmember Sharon Hightower went to the podium and spoke against a rezoning request that the Zoning Commission eventually denied on an 8-0 vote.

Hightower, as a city councilmember, has an appointment to the Zoning Commission, someone presumably that she believed would do a good job and would not need direction from the podium on individual cases.

As a city councilmember it is also likely that Hightower will be making the final decision on this rezoning case. Rezoning cases can be appealed to the City Council, and a case that has opposition usually is.

So even if the Zoning Commission had voted in favor of the rezoning request, Hightower would have had an opportunity to speak about it at the City Council meeting, but evidently Hightower couldn’t wait for her turn.

The requested rezoning was by Kiran Shah for the 0.73 acre lot at 2000 W. Florida St., which is the corner of West Florida and Coliseum Boulevard, from Commercial Low (C-L) to Conditional District – Commercial Medium (CD-C-M). The one condition excluded convenience stores with fuel pumps, any use with a drive through facility, eating and drinking establishments, sexually oriented businesses, bars, brewpubs and nightclubs.

Shah said the plan was to put a car repair business on the lot. The property is surrounded on three sides by C-L zoning and to the west by R-5 single family residential. The opposition came from the neighbors living in the single-family residential area to the west who did not want a car repair business with the noise, odors and people that it would bring to the neighborhood.

After it was clear that the rezoning was not going to be approved, Shah attempted to get a continuance. A motion was made to continue the case, but it was defeated on a 6-2 vote.

The Comprehensive Plan, aka Generalized Future Land Use Map (GFLUM), designates the area as “low residential” and the staff report states, “The requested CD-C-M (Conditional District – Commercial – Medium) zoning district, as conditioned, is generally inconsistent with the Low Residential (3-5 d.u./ acre.) [3-5 dwelling units per acre] GFLUM designation.”

But later the staff report states, “The request is consistent with the intent and purpose of the zoning code, the Comprehensive Plan (Connections 2025) and is generally compatible with the existing development and trend in the surrounding area.”

The staff recommended in favor of the rezoning, which would put Commercial Medium adjacent to Residential Single Family zoning.

There was some indication that the auto repair business had been operating at the location and Shah was notified by the city that the lot would have to be rezoned for that business to continue to operate.