Residents Speak Out Against Residential Zone
ZONE PLACED ON FIRST READING FOR DISCUSSION
FARMINGTON - Farmington City Council last week voted 5-2 to place an ordinance creating a new zoning district for zero lot lines on first reading.
Approval on first reading came even though residents objected to the zone and to the possibility such a zone could be approved for land next to their subdivision.
Council members Patsy Pike, Sherry Mathews, Brenda Cunningham, Linda Bell and Shelly Parsley voted to place the ordinance on first reading. Aldermen Bobby Morgan and Diane Bryant voted against the motion. Keith Lipford was absent.
The ordinance would amend the city’s zoning code to add an R-3 District, which allows zero-lot lines for single family homes. According to the ordinance, an R-3 District would provide suitable areas for medium-density residential development.
Lots would have to be a minimum of 5,400 square feet. The R-3 zone allows a zero-lot line on one side and requires a 10-footwide setback on the other side, a 20-foot-wide front setback and a 20-foot-wide rear setback. It allows a maximum of eight units per acre.
The townhouses located on Rupple Road across from Fayetteville Boys & Girls Club are an example of a development with zero-lot lines.
Bryant said she voted against placing it on first reading because she believes the zone has too much density for Farmington at this point.
“We’re talking about eight homes on an acre,” Bryant said. “I think if we were closer to Fayetteville, I could see it.”
Melissa McCarville, city business manager, said the city has received requests in the past from developers who wanted zero-lot lines and the city did not have a way to accommodate their requests. Monday’s ordinance was initiated by developer Tom Sims as a possible way to develop five acres at 65 N. Double Springs Road.
McCarville pointed out that anyone interested in building houses with zero-lot lines would first have to submit a rezoning request to be approved by the Farmington Planning Commission and City Council.
Mayor Ernie Penn and City Attorney Steve Tennant explained reasons why an R-3 zone might be used in Farmington.
With infrastructure costs increasing for residential developments, an R-3 zone would give developers another option for the right parcel with the right kind of surroundings, Penn said.
In addition, Tennant added, an R-3 zone would provide another
type of housing, with very minimal yard maintenance for the homeowner.
“You’re closer to your neighbors but have a small front yard and a small backyard,” Tennant said.
Barbara O’Brien, of 336 Ridgeway Drive in Northridge Subdivision, spoke against the new zone on behalf of residents in the area and was particularly upset by a certified letter she received in the mail the week before the City Council meeting.
The letter from Home Star Rentals was notifying landowners that a public hearing would be held Aug. 28 on a request to rezone adjacent property from R-1 to R-3.
O’Brien said her response when reading the letter was, “What the heck is an R-3?”
She said she then learned about an R-3 zone from an article in the Enterprise-Leader. She said it bothered her to receive a letter about an R-3 zone before the new zone was approved by the City Council.
“Someone sent that letter with the belief this was going to be green lighted,” O’Brien said. “This is disconcerting to me.”
This is the second time in four months O’Brien has appeared before a Farmington public body to oppose something. She spoke on the behalf of many residents on April 24, asking Farmington Planning Commission to vote against a request to rezone this same property on Double Springs Road from residential to multiple-family residential.
The engineer representing Home Star Rentals pulled the rezoning request from the agenda that night because of the residents’ opposition.
O’Brien said an R-3 zone would allow about 45 homes on the property, a higher density than a multi-family zone and traffic from the development would go onto Double Springs Road or go through their subdivision through a connecting street.
“We would be usurped with a R-3 development,” O’Brien said.
Penn asked O’Brien if she would be against having an R-3 zone designation as an option for the city of Farmington.
O’Brien replied that an R-3 zone was fairly dense and she suspected houses in an R-3 zone would be used as rental property.
“Maybe the time has come. Maybe the time hasn’t come,” O’Brien said, adding the City Council would have to make that decision.
McCarville responded to O’Brien’s comments that Home Star Rentals was taking a risk in sending out certified letters about the rezoning request before the Council meeting. Such requests must be submitted by a deadline to be placed on the agenda. The deadline came before the council meeting, McCarville said.
City Council member Linda Bell reminded those at the meeting the officials were only voting whether an R-3 zone could fit within the city’s land-use plan.
Penn slowed down the process, saying there was not a rush on an R-3 zone. He said it could be placed on first reading to give council members more time to think about it and the public more time to ask questions and comment.
After the council voted to place it on first reading, Penn told the residents the request to rezone the property on Double Springs Road would not be on the Planning Commission’s agenda this month, so they would not have to worry about showing up.