The final scheduled Greensboro City Council meeting of 2023 on Tuesday, Dec. 19 lasted less than an hour and a half.

The meeting could have and should have been much shorter, if the City Council had not gotten all tied up in what was a routine annexation and original zoning request for a single lot.

Greensboro has a huge housing shortage, and it sends the wrong message to builders and developers when the City Council spends over 30 minutes discussing mostly irrelevant and likely legally impermissible issues on a straight forward residential single-family annexation and zoning request.

These one lot annexation and zoning requests are heard at nearly every business meeting and are routinely approved. The requests are usually from people in an area with Greensboro water and sewer and they are requesting annexation because they want Greensboro water and sewer like their neighbors. Under past Greensboro City Council policies, property owners did not have to be annexed in order to receive Greensboro water and sewer; under the current policy they do.

At the meeting on Dec. 19, the City Council had two annexation and zoning requests. The council, with virtually no discussion, passed an annexation and zoning request for McKinney and Sons Construction at 2810-2812 Roland Road.

Then came the request from Ronald Benjamin for annexation and zoning of a 0.61-acre lot at 4012 Hickory Tree Lane, and the discussion went on and on.

Benjamin said, “My main purpose is to build a single-family home for me and my wife to live there.” He said that he did not realize he had to request annexation when he started construction, but halted construction until he could get the land annexed and be eligible for city water and sewer service.

One speaker in opposition said he was no longer opposed. Another speaker went into great detail with numerous documents about Benjamin’s business, which involves owning and managing group homes.

City Councilmember Sharon Hightower took that ball and ran with it, even though this annexation and zoning request was for a private home for Benjamin and his wife.

Hightower also questioned the size of the house and said she was “curious about the size of the lot.”

The size of the lot, 0.61 acres, is listed on the agenda and in numerous places on the agenda attachments.

City Councilmember Hugh Holston also questioned the size of the house.

City Attorney Chuck Watts several times attempted to steer the discussion toward zoning issues and away from Benjamin’s business.

In the end the City Council passed the annexation and zoning requests by 8-1 votes with Hightower voting no.