The Greensboro City Council voted to deny a rezoning request in East Greensboro at the Tuesday, Sept. 21 meeting.
The Sept. 21 meeting was the first in history with a majority of black city councilmembers, and the vote to deny the rezoning request was on straight racial lines.
All five black city councilmembers – Yvonne Johnson, Sharon Hightower, Justin Outling, Goldie Wells and Hugh Holston – voted to deny the rezoning request. All four white members of the City Council – Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Tammi Thurm and Nancy Hoffman – voted against the denial.
The City Council constantly advocates for increased economic development in East Greensboro. District 1 City Councilmember Hightower and District 2 City Councilmember Wells, who represent the bulk of East Greensboro, also constantly advocate for less affordable housing and more market rate housing in East Greensboro.
The request was to rezone 12 acres of land at the intersection of Vivian Lane and South Elm Eugene from Residential Single-Family-5 (R-5) and Conditional District-Residential Multi-Family-12 (CD-RM-12) to Planned Unit Development (PUD).
The heavily conditioned PUD zoning would have allowed a convenience store on the corner of Vivian Lane and South Elm-Eugene Street and 150 multi-family units to be built on the property. The current CD-RM-12 zoning is conditioned to allow 56 multi-family and mobile home units on the lot and is the site of a former mobile home park. It is also adjacent to a mobile home park to the south.
The most vocal opponent to the rezoning request was Hightower, who also spoke against the rezoning request at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. It is extremely rare for a city councilmember to speak at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
Hightower spoke against bringing another convenience store to East Greensboro and said, “Bring us a Whole Foods and bring us a Fresh Market.”
Wells said, “You have trailers, you have a convenience store, you have lots of people and the potential for creating a ghetto.”
Wells added, “Think about the 150 homes back there, trailer homes that will be trotting to the convenience store getting food they don’t need, buying cigarettes and wine then they get tanked up and then they start shooting each other and that increases crime.”
Vaughan noted that this would bring more market rate multifamily housing to the area.