WENDELL — The Board of Commissioners wants no surprises and certainly no line of property owners seeking rezoning.
So, with some members worried about setting unwanted precedents, Wendell commissioners Monday night delayed action on a rezoning request for a Marshburn Road apartment complex. The matter will come back to the board at a future meeting.
“Is this going serve to create a way that we’re chipping away, chipping away at our zoning all the time?” Commissioner Ginna Gray said.
“I think it’s inconsistent that our UDO (Unified Development Ordinance) is going to allow it, but then our zoning creates a hurdle, so we end up having to change our zoning.”
Built in 1984, the Maple Court apartments provide 48 residential units. The property owner, William Jenkins, wishes to have the 5.51-acre property across from the post office rezoned from R3 to Neighborhood Commercial to accommodate the requirements of a financial backer for upgrades at the complex.
“We built this approximately 30 years ago, and we’re trying to rehab it,” said William Ramsey, Jenkins’ stepson who represented him at the meeting, said. “We just have a conflict with a financial backer. They’re not willing to back us if a tornado were to take it away. We’re just protecting the investment.”
Under R3, the apartments could not be rebuilt after a natural disaster such as a tornado or flood. That has the financial backer nervous.
“When the UDO was passed in 2010, multifamily dwellings became prohibited in the R3 zoning district, which is the district it’s located in,” Town Planner David Bergmark said. “As a result, it’s considered an existing nonconforming use.”
Commissioner Christie Adams also had reservations about setting precedents, but Commissioner Sam Laughery urged setting this precedent so the property could be upgraded and enhance the area.
Town manager Teresa Piner said a rush of change requests shouldn’t be a problem.
“I think each case is going to have to be looked at individually,” Piner said
After a 3-2 vote in favor of the request, with Gray and Adams against, the measure will be brought back for its second reading. The next board meeting is Feb. 11.
The rules require rezoning requests to pass by a supermajority, meaning four of the five commissioners must vote in favor of the request. When the matter is taken up again, passage requires a simple majority, or three of the five votes from commissioners.
The vote came on a night that included five public hearings at which only one resident – Ramsey – came forward to speak. With no additional concerns to address, the commissioners focused on agenda items that change the town’s zoning map.
The board approved zoning and annexation requests that complete the property being assembled for a Walmart Express along Wendell Boulevard near the Fire Department.
The Walmart Real Estate Business Trust’s request to rezone 2.09 acres at 3000 Wendell Blvd. from Manufacturing and Industrial to Corridor Mixed Use was also approved.