Two seemingly similar zoning requests a few hundred yards apart on McConnell Road had the exact opposite outcomes before the Greensboro City Council at the meeting on Tuesday, May 21 in the Council Chamber.

The requests were both for annexation and original zoning from county agricultural to city Conditional District light industrial (CD-LI). Both were adjacent to Innsbrook Village Apartments owned by the Carroll Companies which also owns this publication. The one for Penske Truck Leasing Company at 3712 to 3742 McConnell Road is between Innsbrook Village Apartments and the entrance ramp to I-40 and the other for Linder Industrial Machinery at 3618 McConnell Road is adjacent to Innsbrook Village on the other side.

The City Council approved the Penske Trucking annexation and zoning request by a 9-0 vote and turned down the Linder request by a 9-0 vote.

Mike Fox of Tuggle Duggins representing Innsbrook Village opposed both requests.

One major difference between the two requests was that attorney Marc Isaacson representing Penske, after negotiating with Fox, ended up with 12 conditions.  One of those doubled the buffer from the required 25 feet to 50 feet.  Others limited the hours of operation, the direction the bay doors to the service garage opened and defined building materials that would be used.

The Linder zoning request had two conditions and Linder was represented by Don Curry, a civil engineer with The Curry Engineering Group who said he had not been asked to add conditions.

Fox originally asked for a continuance of one month for the Penske request.  He said, “We have been negotiating in good faith as has Mr. Isaacson and it has historically been the practice of this Council to grant a continuance when one side has asked for it.”

Isaacson said that they had been negotiating for a month and in his opinion in another month they would be no closer to reaching agreement.  He said they had to agree to disagree about certain issues.  He also said it would cost his client thousands of dollars to delay the zoning request for a month.

Historically the City Council has granted one continuance to either side in rezoning cases, particularly if negotiations were underway.  However, breaking with tradition the City Council voted down the request for a continuance by a 9-0 vote.

When the case was heard Fox agreed that they were substantially in agreement, but there were issues that had not been worked out mainly dealing with the buffer, setbacks and possible expansion.  He said that light industrial uses could be compatible with multifamily but that they weren’t there yet.  He asked that the City Council deny the rezoning.

Fox said, “Let’s get it right.  We’re not against this Penske use.  We believe that properly buffered with proper setbacks this can work.”

Councilmember Justin Outling said what he was hearing from Fox was that the zoning should be denied over a buffer issue and said “We can’t require Penske to add additional buffer. We kind of have to take it as it is.”

Isaacson noted that the buffer had been doubled over what was required by the ordinance, plus they had agreed to 12 conditions.

After the presentations by both sides, Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “I think this an ideal spot for industrial type growth.”

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I think this is a good project and I’m glad we’re going to see more investment in East Greensboro.”

For the Linder case, Fox said it was a different situation because Linder was much more of a heavy industrial use.  He also noted that a large part of the lot would not be paved which would increase the noise and dust with the large construction equipment Linder rented being moved around.

The fact that Curry did not add conditions and mentioned something that was not in the presentation before the Zoning Commission or in his initial presentation to the City Council that there would actually be two separate businesses on the lot did not win any support. In answer to a question Curry said that along with Linder there would a Sunstate equipment rental facility on the site.

Fox noted that while the majority of the traffic going to Penske would not go past Innsbrook, almost all the traffic going to the Linder site would be coming off the interstate and going directly past the entrance to Innsbrook.  He said having two businesses on the lot would greatly increase traffic and noted that there was a school bus stop at the entrance where three buses picked up and dropped off children every school day.

The City Council agreed with Fox on this one as much as they had disagreed with him on the Penske request.

Two similar zoning requests but two entirely different outcomes.