It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good, and although a wind can’t get much worse than the coronavirus, it has created a favorable climate for those rezoning property in Greensboro.
The Greensboro City Council had four rezoning requests on the agenda for the July 21 meeting and passed all of them by unanimous votes.
Two of the rezoning requests had speakers in opposition at the virtual meeting.
Two of the requests were for annexation and original city zoning. The current state law restricts cities from annexing property unless the property owner requests it. Greensboro will not extend water and sewer service to a property until that property is annexed. So almost all of the requests for annexation are from property owners who want city water and sewer service and are rarely denied.
The virtual meetings do make it easier for the City Council to rezone property when there is neighborhood opposition. Usually when a neighborhood opposes a rezoning request, a large contingent of neighbors fill the seats in the Council Chamber, most of them don’t speak at the meeting. However, one of the speakers in opposition usually asks everyone opposed to stand.
It is much more difficult for an elected official to look at 50 or 100 people standing in opposition to the rezoning and vote for it then it is to look at a screen with one speaker who says a lot of other people are opposed and vote against that face on a screen.
It’s one of the reasons the Zoning Commission will approve a rezoning request that is later denied by the City Council. The zoning commissioners are appointed and don’t have to be concerned about being reelected.
The City Council will also often approve a rezoning request that the Zoning Commission has denied, as it did on the rezoning request for 2400 N. Elm St. on July 21. As Mayor Nancy Vaughan noted at the meeting, the rezoning request that was unanimously approved by City Council was far different than the one the Zoning Commission unanimously denied.
In the time between the Zoning Commission meeting and the City Council meeting, the developer had hired an attorney, Tom Terrell of Fox Rothschild, and added conditions that dealt with a number of the issues the Zoning Commission raised.