Res­i­dents Speak Out Against Res­i­den­tial Zone


Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter

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.

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