Developer withdraws rezoning request along West Friendly Avenue, heads back to drawing board

Developer withdraws rezoning request along West Friendly Avenue, heads back to drawing board
Developer withdraws rezoning request along West Friendly Avenue, heads back to drawing board

Reproduced from News & Record Source:

A Greensboro developer has withdrawn his request to rezone three parcels on West Friendly Avenue and develop them into a property with 13 two-story duplex buildings called Hutchinson Court.

Glenn Drew, owner of CZS Development Inc., owns the properties on the 4000 block of West Friendly. He has endured heavy resistance from a neighborhood association group, the Friends of Friendly Planning Committee, which has marshaled hundreds of homeowners to attend city meetings in opposition to him.

Though the association has cited issues with Hutchinson Court that are both aesthetic and logistical in nature, Drew told the News & Record that he now plans to refile his request with a revised plan informed by the concerns shared with him.

“When Hutchinson Court is completed I am convinced it will be an asset to the neighborhood, provide efficient and complementary use of available land resources and enhance neighboring properties and the Friendly Avenue corridor,” Drew wrote in an email.

Drew defended himself against allegations made against his experience as a developer by the Friendly neighbors association on its website.

“It is unfortunate that a small group of residents have chosen to act in an underhanded manner by resorting to the publication of false and misleading information about myself and the Hutchinson Court development,” Drew wrote. “My 35-year record developing commercial, residential, institutional and industrial real estate is a matter of fact.”

‘It better not be a pig with lipstick’

In the words of Nicky Smith, the leader of the Friendly Avenue association, this matter is about “the soul of Friendly Avenue.”

Neighbors have staked their interest in preserving the integrity of what they deem the historical character and appearance of their neighborhood, and they cite these issues:

The proximity of buildings to the road. Drew’s original plan called for 35-foot setbacks, which would set the buildings of Hutchinson Court much closer to the road in contrast to surrounding properties. The standard setback — or distance between a dwelling and its property line — for homes along W. Friendly Avenue is 100 feet or more.

The density of Hutchinson Court. Drew proposed 26 multifamily units, later decreasing the total by four in a counteroffer to the neighbors.

Differences in the aesthetic appearance of the buildings. Members of the neighborhood association with architectural expertise point to building materials in Drew’s original plan such as brick facade and vinyl siding that would not fit the “ceramic context” of the neighborhood, which contains midcentury and traditional style houses.

Fear of a domino effect. John Drinkard, a Friendly Avenue resident and architect with more than 30 years of experience in Greensboro believes that the Hutchinson Court development could have a domino effect in zoning regulations and development. Smith and other residents call the rezoning a textbook example of spot zoning — a practice of rezoning a specific parcel or parcels of land within a larger zoned area that is at odds with current restrictions.

Residents have also expressed problems with the height of the proposed buildings, the amount of traffic incurred by the development, and environmental impacts of the duplexes.

Drew told the News & Record that he plans to request to rezone the property into a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that will allow for five units per acre, similar to the density of Villages At Windsor, which borders two-thirds of the site.

“The new proposal now being prepared by our civil engineers will specifically reduce the number of units previously planned, increase setbacks from the neighboring properties, provide additional building features and specify enhanced landscaping,” Drew wrote.

Smith said that he and the neighbors will have high standards for what Drew does next.

“Whatever he proposes next, it better not be a pig with lipstick,” Smith told the News & Record. “It better look pretty.”

Although several residents have said that revisions such as these would appease concerns, the association is planning to stonewall any aspects of a new proposal that wouldn’t fit with the character of the neighborhood.

A presentation obtained by the News & Record details a proposal for a “Westridge Neighborhood Overlay Plan,” which includes the lots on Westridge Road between Friendly Avenue and Brookcliffe.

A neighborhood conservation overlay is a regulatory tool that helps residents recognize and preserve distinctive elements of their neighborhoods.

Smith told the News & Record that they have the support of Nancy Hoffman, the city council’s representative for the district, but will still need a petition with signatures of property owners representing 25% of land and property, as well as 51% of land and parcel owners to approve drafted development standards in order to proceed to public hearing.

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