City planners seek balance on rezoning
College Avenue proposal goes back to planning stage
FAYETTEVILLE — A proposal to rezone a stretch of College Avenue will go back to the drawing board so city planners can try to strike a balance between what neighbors want and standards for appropriate development.
The Ordinance Review Committee, consisting of half the City Council, made recommendations Monday that would bring the proposal back to the Planning Commission. Planners first presented a proposal to rezone College Avenue from Maple to North streets in April. The idea was to have a nicer-looking College Avenue that would go with the sidewalk improvement project happening now.
The proposal changed significantly as it went up the rungs of public forum. The question of whether to create a light urban thoroughfare zoning district eventually came to the council. The new zoning district would limit building height to 45 feet, or about four stories, rather than the 75 feet now allowed. A previous incarnation of the
proposal allowed 84-foot tall buildings.
The committee opted not to create a district but change the code to address neighbors’ concerns. Dozens of neighbors who expressed their feelings to the Planning Commission said they didn’t want large, student-occupied apartments looming over their homes. Many worried a heavily populated complex would bring zooming cars, noise and safety issues to their neighborhoods.
Alderman Matthew Petty said the city can’t tell developers they’re not allowed to build for students.
“I think it gets dangerously close to talking about having the ‘wrong element’ in your neighborhood,” he said. “I don’t like to talk about preventing student housing like that. But, we can talk about what makes some
of the more notable examples of student housing in our community problematic and try to regulate those things.”
The committee discussed creating a system in which developers could build three-story buildings by right, but anything above would require a “retail-ready” ground floor. “Retail-ready” would mean a higher ceiling, up to 25 feet, with plenty of space for people to move around. Anything more than 25 feet would cut into the second floor and so on.
Petty, Planning Commissioner Alli Quinlan and City
Planning Director Andrew Garner will write some of the finer details. The incentive-based system would dissuade developers from making buildings that don’t integrate well with the surroundings. Petty used Gather Dickson and the Academy at Frisco as examples of student housing that residents usually point to.
“Long answer short, those projects would be so radically different as to be unrecognizable if they were to come back through under what I’m talking about,” he said.
The committee also recommended changing building height measurement in the code from feet to stories. The change would give architects more flexibility in design, Garner said. He used as an example a varied skyline versus flat roofs over rows of buildings.
The council will take the rezoning proposal off the table and place it back on the agenda Tuesday. Alderman Justin Tennant will give the full council the committee’s recommendations and request to give the item back to the Planning Commission. A subcommittee of the Planning Commission likely will iron out more details before the full commission takes on the proposal again, City Attorney Kit Williams said.
Luke Gilpatrick with Fayetteville’s Transportation Division uses a cement cutter April 4 on College Avenue. The work is part of Phase II for completing the improvement project on the west side of College Avenue between North and Maple streets.