The intent of the New Garden Road Strategic Plan was to control development in the New Garden Road Corridor, but following action of the Greensboro City Council at its Tuesday, Sept. 17 meeting the result will be to create another hoop for developers to jump through all over Greensboro.
The one part of the New Garden Road Strategic Plan which the City Council passed on a 9-0 vote that fomented the most discussion is the requirement that if a rezoning request involving a plan amendment is in an area with an active neighborhood association after a city held meeting the neighborhood association is given 60 days to respond to the rezoning request.
City Councilmember Justin Outling noted that rezoning requests were an issue for neighborhoods throughout the city. He said, “If you are a member of another neighborhood you do not have the additional layer of having a city convened meeting.” He added, “If it’s good enough for New Garden Road, then is should be good enough for the rest of the city.”
Outling said that the neighborhoods with neighborhood plans, not only received the benefit of a detailed neighborhood plan developed by the city, but “they get an added benefit of having a special city meeting 60 days out.”
He described giving that special treatment to some and not all neighborhoods as “especially unfair and especially unjust.”
Outling said that passing the New Garden Road plan and not making the policy citywide “would result in fundamental inequities across the community.”
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said, “This is about equitable development principals.” She added, “That same thing needs to be happening in East Greensboro.”
Outling said he couldn’t vote for the New Garden Road Strategic Plan unless the City Council first passed a motion to start the process to give that same right to every neighborhood in the city. He asked that the planning department come back with an ordinance to make that happen in 60 days. He later relented and said that he would vote for the plan and then make his motion.
What kicks the special treatment into gear on New Garden Road is a rezoning request that is not in keeping with New Garden Road Strategic plan, how that will be handled in neighborhoods that don’t have a strategic plan was not discussed.
After passing the strategic plan, the City Council unanimously passed Outling’s motion to make the new requirements citywide.
One of the key items about the New Garden Road Strategic Plan that wasn’t discussed is that even though it does add a 60 day delay to a rezoning request, it doesn’t change the fact that a majority vote on the City Council can rezone any property on New Garden Road. The final decision is made by five members of the City Council regardless of how many different plans and studies the planning department does.