Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

TOP STORY >>Rezoning gets board approval

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

After more than an hour of discussion and debate in front of a standing room only crowd Monday night at city hall, the Jacksonville Planning Commission, by a 4 to 3 vote, approved a rezoning that would allow an 80-lot subdivision to be built near Loop Road and Northeastern Avenue.

But turned down the developer’s basic sketch plan for the area because there were still too many concerns and questions about the plan that needed to be addressed.

Commissioners voted to rezone the 19.5 acres from R-0 (single family homes with 70x120 foot lots) to R-1 (single family homes with 60x100 foot lots).

The smaller lots would allow the developer to put in about 15 more homes and would allow him to build garden or patio-style homes, which have less yard to maintain than a normal home.

“I have no intentions of leaving the land undeveloped,” said the developer Jack Wilson right before the commission voted.
The rezoning must now go through the city council for final approval.

The commission and the packed-in-tight audience had concerns with traffic, train noise and the size of the homes.
Wilson told commissioners that in his other subdivisions in other cities he had $400,000 homes across the street from $225,000 homes and 4,000-square-foot homes across from 1,625-square foot homes.

The minimum size of the homes he proposed to build in the new subdivision was 1,500 square feet, smaller than the surrounding Foxwood homes.

“The minimum is 1,500 square feet, but we will build what the market wants,” he said.

Wilson also promised to build a 10 to 12 foot berm with timber growth on top to buffer the subdivision and current residents from the train noise.

Charles Evans, one of the spokesmen for the large group of residents, told the commissioners, “We are here at your mercy. The only people who will benefit from this subdivision is the developer and real estate people. Why does it have to be rezoned? Why not let it stay large lots and match the rest of Foxwood?”

Evans also expressed concerns about the traffic. “There are two schools in the area and traffic is already bad. This subdivision will add at least 150 more cars.”

Dan Broughton, another concerned resident, read a copy of a letter that he and his wife wrote and gave to each commissioner. He touched on traffic concerns, safety of the neighborhood kids, train noise and property values. “Smaller lots and smaller houses will detract from the larger lots and houses already in existence in the Foxwood subdivision and lower the value of existing homes,” he said.

Numerous residents suggested that Wilson add more street in and out of the subdivision and put the major entrances on Loop Road.

Wilson replied, “I’m appalled the way they want to treat the people buying the homes. Having entrances off a commercial highway is dangerous for seniors.”

Commissioner Bart Gray Jr., in making the recommendation to approve the rezoning, said this was a good opportunity for the city, but even though he was for the rezoning, felt the developer needed to come back with a better plan before he could vote for the sketch plan.

Commissioners Gray, Susan Dollar, John Herbold and Tom Evans voted to approve the rezoning, while commissioners Art Brannen, Chad Young and Alderman Bill Howard voted no.

Commissioners also denied plans that were presented for an additional 10 to 12 homes off Edinburgh because traffic concerns had not been addressed like the commissioners had asked the developer to do.

Jim Moore, vice president of the Stonewall Property Owners Association, told the commissioners in his efforts to get the plan denied, “You guys are supposed to protect us. Edinburgh is a small feeder street and cannot handle the construction equipment or projected traffic.”

Developer Jim Peacock told the commission that there were at least 11 other subdivisions with just one way in and out like his proposed Edinburgh Subdivision, all with the same size street as Edinburgh, and all apparently working fine.

Last month, Peacock brought a plan before the council that called for a mix of single-family homes and multi-family units for the land he owns. Commissioners asked him to bring it back with only the single family homes and to address the traffic concerns. He brought back a plan for single-family homes, but no changes or suggestions for traffic flow.
In other commission business:

Commissioners approved a three-lot sketch plat for the Besancon Property off Red Fox Lane.

The commission approved the sketch plat for Delaney Heights, a new single-family home subdivision east of Laurel Street and adjacent to Graham Road.

Commissioners approved the final plat of Wendi’s Corner which will allow a house to be built on two lots behind Western Sizzlin.

Commissioners approved the final plat of the Northlake Subdivision, Phase X-C.

The commission approved the final plats of lots 1 and 2 of the Jacksonville Commerce Subdivision off General Samuels, which will give the city a better chance to sell the property to industrial or commercial enterprises.

Commissioners turned down a request from Marshall Road Pharmacy to extend the building until a variance from the Board of Adjustments could received.