June 26, 2011 by wcobserver
City Appoints Two
By Susan McCarthy
GREENLAND – City council members weighed in on the planning commission’s recent stalemate that failed to decide on a rezoning request that would allow a home to built on property that is currently zoned for heavy commercial use. The council also appointed a new council member and a new planning commissioner.
Several council members expressed support for a zoning change that would allow 20 acres off Hwy. 265 to be rezoned from C3 commercial use to R3 residential use. Susan McGowan, who owns the property and currently lives in Tacoma, Washington, would like the property rezoned so she can build a home there. Last week, a public hearing on the matter ended in a stalemate when planning commissioners couldn’t agree on whether the request should be approved or denied.
Council Member Johney Boles said he was disappointed in the outcome of last week’s public hearing. He said he appreciates the city’s planning and long term outlook, but said the city needs to apply short-term logic while trying to meet long-term goals.
“I, too, am disappointed things didn’t work out differently for her,” said Council Member Stephanie Sharp, referring to McGowan who has traveled from Tacoma Washington twice to meet with the city’s planning commission.
Sharp said she had walked the property with McGowan and while she commended the planning commission for the job it has done, she said the council has always assumed they might need to make some adjustments.
“Spot zoning is a lot better than shot-gun zoning and I think that’s what we’ve got,” said Mayor Bill Groom, adding that the city needs to face that down or the city won’t grow.
The City of Greenland approved a long term zoning plan in 2009 that rezoned much of the agricultural land along Hwy. 265 for heavy commercial use. The C3 zone prohibits construction of a single family dwelling.
Dell Ragsdale, who lives along Hwy. 265, said her land was zoned for agricultural use when she purchased it and the infrastructure is not in place on that side of the highway to support commercial development at this time. She said nearly all of McGowan’s neighbors have attended the planning commission meetings and have expressed support of rezoning the property for residential use. Ragsdale said she feels a disservice has been done to McGowan in not approving her request.
One person who has consistently campaigned to keep the property zoned commercial is McGowan’s neighbor and former husband, Otis Embree. He praised the planning commission’s zoning code as a forward thinking plan and feels commercial development will come to Hwy. 265.
“I don’t think you’re giving it time for that to work out,” said Embree who has maintained that zoning should be changed for the city’s benefit as a whole and not for individuals.
At the June 6 public hearing and planning commission meeting, commissioners discussed limiting commercial zoning to 300 feet off Hwy. 265.
“I think Cato Springs (Hwy. 265) can be for you what Wedington Road is to Fayetteville,” said Embree who said 300 feet isn’t enough room for commercial development.
Embree gave several examples along Wedington Avenue where development was located nearly 1,000 feet off the road.
McGowan will have the option of making a formal appeal to the city council to have the matter evaluated.
In other city council news:
Council members appointed Robert Rea to replace Council Member Carroll Hancock, Ward 3 who resigned in a letter dated May 9. Both Rea and Lonnie Meadows presented themselves for consideration at the meeting. Rea was sworn in by Groom at the meeting.
The council also approved the appointment of Larry Forrester to the planning commission. Forrester, who is the father of Council Member Greg Forrester, will replace Ron Tomlinson who resigned on June 6. Greg Forrester was absent from Monday night’s meeting.
Police Chief Gary Ricker reported that the city is seeking $28,000 in federal and state assistance for damages caused during recent flooding. Ricker said up to 75 percent of the damages might be covered under the assistance program offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and up to 12.5 percent could be available from the State of Arkansas. He said if all goes well, the city would only be out 12.5 percent.
Council members heard a proposal that would bring curbside recycling to Greenland city residents. Maylon Rice, Director for the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District pitched the idea of a Blue Bag program that would allow residents to put recycling out with their weekly trash. Groom said the city has already applied for a grant that would fund a truck and trailer and further discussion would take place after its known whether the city receives the grant.