Unintended Unity: Finding Gratitude in Community Resilience Amidst Rezoning Challenges


Sunday, November 19, 2023 – Opinion by Nicky Smith

Today, I heard a sermon at Christ United Methodist Church, where our pastor, Morris Brown, shared a message that resonated deeply with me, especially in light of the challenges our community is currently facing with the potential rezoning. The sermon, aptly titled “Stop, Think, and Be Thankful” was a timely reminder as we approach Thanksgiving. However, it led me to an unexpected realization.

As I sat there, reflecting on the theme of gratitude, my thoughts took a unique turn. I realized the importance of stopping to appreciate what Glenn Drew’s actions, albeit unintended, have achieved for our neighborhood. In a way, I find myself thankful to him, not for what he plans against our beloved community, but for the unity he has inadvertently fostered among us.

It’s remarkable to see how his ReZoning proposal has united people across various beliefs and political affiliations. Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – all coming together for a shared purpose. It’s a unity born out of a collective desire to preserve the essence of our cherished family neighborhood, to maintain it just the way it is, without any changes.

Never in my life had I imagined that one person’s actions to profit from a high-density townhome development could rally such a diverse group around a common cause. This experience has been a powerful reminder of our community’s strength when we stand together. So, in a way, thank you, Glenn Drew, for showing us the power of unity, and for reminding us of what we can achieve when we all work toward a common goal. It’s a lesson in community and togetherness that I will carry with me, not just through this season of Thanksgiving but beyond.

Gratitude for the Honor: Embracing the Role of Community Representative

I am also writing this blog post to express my heartfelt gratitude for the trust and confidence you have placed in me by selecting me to represent our cherished community. It is a profound honor to be chosen as one of your voices on social media with the other 10 volunteer community committee members to advocate in matters that are pivotal to the well-being and future of our neighborhood. Each of the committee members serves in different roles but we all have the communities best interest at heart. I share this volunteer committee with:

  • Jenny Kaiser – Kaiser4@bellsouth.net
  • Art Close – Acclose@aol.com
  • Buddy Milks – bmilks@cpisecurity.com
  • Candida Yoshikai – cwyin2012@gmail.com
  • Jeannie Hager – jeanniebhager@gmail.com
  • John Drinkard – john.drinkard@cjmw.com
  • Andy Anonson – aronsona4@gmail.com
  • Nikki Kohut – nikkijrn@gmail.com
  • Steve Freyaldenhoven – sfrey220@gmail.com
  • Kris Aronson – aronsonkris@gmail.com
  • Nicky Smith – nickysmith@icloud.com
  • Marsh D Prause, Legal Counsel – mprause@allmanspry.com

The responsibility of representing you is something I hold in the highest regard. Your faith in me is not just a personal honor but a powerful reminder of the collective spirit that binds us as a community. It is this spirit, the shared commitment to the place we call home, that will guide every step I take and every decision I make in this role.

I am keenly aware that this is not just a role but a commitment to uphold our collective values, to listen attentively to your concerns, and to be a steadfast champion for our interests. The challenges we face, from preserving the unique character of our neighborhood to ensuring our voices are heard in key decisions, are challenges I am ready to tackle with your support.

As I undertake this journey, I want you to know that my door is always open. I welcome your ideas, feedback, and perspectives, as these will be invaluable in shaping our collective approach. Together, we have the power to make a difference, protect and enhance the neighborhood we love, and build a legacy that future generations can be proud of.

Thank you once again for entrusting me with this significant responsibility. I am inspired by your confidence in me and am committed to representing our community with integrity, dedication, and a relentless focus on our shared goals.

Nicky Smith
Friends of Friendly Committee Member

Why This Development Project So Wrong

Overlay No Rezonibg Complex

Glenn Drew’s proposed rezoning plan for Friendly Avenue has become a focal point of community discussion, embodying the complex dilemma encapsulated in the adage, “Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.” While Drew’s plan demonstrates a possibility within the realms of urban development and commercial gain, it raises significant ethical and communal concerns. The proposal, involving the construction of high-density townhomes, stands at odds with the existing character and values of the neighborhood – a community defined by its serene, family-friendly atmosphere and historic charm. This situation forces a critical evaluation not just of what is technically and legally feasible in urban planning, but what is morally and socially responsible. It brings to the fore the importance of aligning development projects with the collective ethos and long-term vision of the communities they impact, reminding us that the power to execute a plan comes with the responsibility to consider its broader implications on the fabric of society.

Why we must join together in stopping Glenn Drew

Glenndrew Glenn Drew’s approach to our community, fueled by a pursuit of significant financial gain, underscores the pressing need to intervene and redirect his development agenda. Focusing exclusively on profit, his project overlooks and, in fact, dismisses the deep and lasting impact it would have on the essence of our neighborhood. This isn’t a mere oversight but a calculated decision to place financial returns above the well-being and distinct character of our community. Such a mindset transforms this development from a mere project into a palpable threat to the core of what makes our community special.

In our commitment to the neighborhood, we have proactively reached out to Mr. Drew with alternative proposals. These suggestions aimed to find a middle ground, offering options for the use of his land that would be more in harmony with the area’s character and less disruptive to its current state. Unfortunately, our efforts to engage in a constructive dialogue have been met with resistance. Mr. Drew has remained unresponsive to these alternatives, demonstrating an unwillingness to consider options that diverge from his profit-maximizing plan.

Our neighborhood’s identity and values are not commodities to be traded for economic gain. The preservation of our unique atmosphere, the legacy of our streets, and the cohesion of our community life are assets far too valuable to be sacrificed. This situation calls for resolute opposition against such narrow, profit-driven motives. It is crucial that we stand united, advocating vehemently for the preservation of our neighborhood’s character. We must uphold the principles that have long defined our community, ensuring that any development aligns with these values rather than undermines them.

Our resistance is not just about halting a development project; it’s about safeguarding the heart and soul of our neighborhood against decisions that fail to recognize its true value. This is a call to action for all who cherish what our community stands for, to protect it from being irreversibly altered by short-sighted and profit-centric developments.

A Call to Action: Preserving the Essence of Friendly Avenue Against Unwanted Rezoning

Make Your Voice Heard: The Critical Zoning Commission Meeting on November 20th
Make Your Voice Heard: The Critical Zoning Commission Meeting on November 20th

In the heart of Greensboro lies Friendly Avenue, a beacon of history, nature, and community. Today, this emblematic neighborhood faces a threat that could unravel its very essence – a proposed rezoning by Glenn Drew of CZS Development. This proposal is not merely a construction plan; it is a blueprint that could irreversibly alter one of Greensboro’s most historic and serene neighborhoods.

The Clash of Past and Future

The character of Friendly Avenue, dating back to the 1920s, is defined by harmony between nature and urban living, with spacious lots, curving streets, and a rich tree canopy. The proposed development, with its high-density townhomes, compact lot sizes, and insufficient setbacks, starkly contrasts this historical vision. It casts a shadow over the legacy left by visionary planners like Alfred Scales and the Sternberger Family, challenging the neighborhood’s long-standing identity.

Against the Greensboro 2040 Plan

This proposal stands in direct contradiction to the Greensboro 2040 plan’s commitment to “protect and enhance the unique character of every neighborhood.” The introduction of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in this area poses a significant risk, setting a dangerous precedent for future development and undermining the city’s vision for neighborhood preservation.

Community’s Resounding No

The voices against this rezoning are not silent. Over a thousand signatures, overwhelming opposition at community meetings, and comprehensive surveys have echoed a shared sentiment – this development does not reflect our community’s values or needs. Our stance is clear: we advocate for development that honors our neighborhood’s unique identity and rejects those prioritizing profit over community well-being.

The Threat to Historic Character

The rezoning request by Glenn Drew as CZS Development seeks to benefit the developer at the expense of the surrounding property owners. It increases the degree of nonconformity and fails to fit into the surrounding neighborhood’s framework. Despite community efforts for a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay and significant opposition, the developer’s plans continue to disregard the area’s unique character.

Alternative Paths Forward

We propose alternatives that reflect the community’s character, such as development models similar to Rountree Court’s, which align with the neighborhood’s essence. These alternatives offer economic benefits while preserving the area’s historical integrity.

A Plea to the Zoning Commissioners

We appeal to the Zoning Commissioners to vote no on this rezoning. Let’s seek development paths that align with our community’s character, uphold the city’s comprehensive plans, and consider the well-being of the entire community.

Monday’s decision on Friendly Avenue will shape the future, setting a precedent for how we handle the delicate balance between development and preservation. It is a decision that will reflect our commitment to protecting historic neighborhoods and homes in Greensboro.

In conclusion, we urge a decision that considers the best for the community and not just one individual. The future of Friendly Avenue, a symbol of our city’s heritage, depends on it.

Join me and others on Monday

It’s infuriating and utterly disrespectful how Glenn Drew and his legal team have blatantly ignored our four heartfelt requests aimed at preserving our neighborhood’s family-centric character. Their complete dismissal of our concerns in favor of their construction plans is nothing short of an affront to our community!

Please take the time to join others on Monday, November 20th at the Greensboro Planning and Zoning Board monthly meeting at 5:30 PM at the Melvin Municipal Office Building, 300 W. Washington St, Greensboro, NC 27401 our Committee will be allotted just 10 minutes to voice our opposition to the proposed rezoning of the property on West Friendly Avenue. Three of our neighbors will stand to articulate our perspective, presenting a powerful case as to why the Greensboro Planning and Zoning Commission should reject this rezoning proposal.

Your presence is absolutely crucial! By attending, you send an undeniable message to the Zoning Commission, showcasing our united and fierce opposition to this ill-conceived townhome complex amidst our single-family homes. Stand with us; let’s ensure our voice is impossible to ignore and halt this rezoning in its tracks!