The virtual town hall meeting held by District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling on Tuesday, Nov. 10 did reveal the strategy of the opponents of the Koury Corporation rezoning request for 23 acres on Cone Boulevard.
It also revealed that the rezoning request has a multitude of opponents from north, south, east and west of the site. Over 100 people participated in the Zoom meeting. No one spoke in favor of the rezoning request.
Koury has requested that 23.3 acres it owns on Cone Boulevard between Lafayette Avenue and Cleburne Street be rezoned from Residential Single-Family to Conditional District–Residential Multifamily- 26 (CD-RM-26).
The rezoning request was approved by the Zoning Commission and appealed by opponents to the City Council, where it is scheduled to be heard at the virtual City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Many of the opponents who spoke at the Zoom meeting, hosted by Outling, gave reasons why a continuance to the January meeting of the City Council should be granted.
One of those reasons repeated by opponents was that the opponents want to commission their own traffic study, one that they say will reveal that the cut through traffic in the adjacent neighborhoods of Kirkwood and Browntown will be much greater than the traffic study done for Koury by Davenport Engineering revealed.
At the Zoning Commission meeting on Oct. 19, when he was questioned about cut through traffic, John Davenport said that the study indicated most of the traffic to and from the proposed 480-apartment development would be on Cone, which is a divided thoroughfare and could, according to Davenport, easily handle the additional traffic. Davenport agreed that there would be some cut through traffic in the neighborhoods.
Many of the neighbors who spoke at the Zoom meeting strongly disagree with that assessment and asked for time for a new traffic study to be completed, which they believe will indicate that the cut through traffic will be extensive.
The heavy traffic that already exists on Cornwallis Drive was mentioned repeatedly. West Cornwallis Drive, which is overwhelmingly single-family residential, is a straight shot with no traffic signals or stop signs between North Elm Street and Lawndale Avenue.
Outling said that because of the open meetings law and the fact that a majority of the City Council could sign on to the Zoom meeting he could not discuss the issue with individual callers. Outling said, “In light of that law we need to make sure we don’t engage in discussion.”
After the meeting Outling explained that this was the first virtual town hall held by a councilmember on a zoning issue and that not engaging with individual speakers allowed more people the opportunity to speak. Everyone who made a request to speak was reportedly afforded that opportunity and several people spoke twice.