Farmington Commission Votes 4-3 To Approve R-3 Zone
NEIGHBORS OPPOSE HIGHER DENSITY ZONE
FARMINGTON — A year ago, Robert Mann, chairman of Farmington Planning Commission, was in the same situation with the same piece of property. He was left to break a tie on a request to rezone land from R-1 to R-3, which is higher density and allows zero lot lines for a single-family residential development.
Last year on Nov. 27, 2017, Mann broke the tie to vote in favor of rezoning the property, about 5.6 acres at 65 N. Double Springs Road, from R-1 to R-3 at the request of owner Home Star Rentals LLC. The vote was 3-3, with Toni Bahn absent from the meeting.
Last week, Mann voted the same way and broke a 3-3 tie to rezone the land at the request of a different owner this time. Commissioners Bobby Wilson, Chad Ball and Jay Moore voted for the rezoning. Commissioners Howard Carter, Judy Horne and Gerry Harris voted against it.
Several commissioners changed their minds from a year ago. Last year, Horne and Howard voted in favor of the rezoning request, and Moore voted against it. Ball is a new member on the commission.
This time around, D&B of Northwest Arkansas LLC and RLD Management LLC are the property owners and requested that the land be rezoned to R-3 to build 24 homes on the 5.6 acres. Principles in D&B are Doug Williams and Beaux Barnes of Farmington. Ronnie Davison is with RLD Management.
“I was up here a year ago doing the exact same thing,” Mann said, prior to breaking the tie. He said he planned to vote in favor of the request for the same reason as last year: Farmington has limited housing options available and the R-3 is another option.
Mann last year also said he was voting yes to give the City Council a “shot” at considering the request.
Rezoning requests have to be approved by Farmington City Council.
Last year, the request to rezone the property to R-3 failed at the City Council meeting because no one made a motion to adopt the rezoning ordinance.
“The last time the City Council didn’t vote on it and I wish they had,” Mann said after the vote.
Wilson also referred to the Council’s lack of action on the request last year, saying, “Isn’t this when the City Council didn’t do their job and didn’t even vote?”
The rezoning request from D&B and RLD Management will be on the Council’s Dec. 10 agenda.
Judy Horne said she believes there’s a place for an R-3 zone in Farmington but her research shows R-3 zones are used in other communities in areas with high density population, urban renewal, urban centers.
“We’re not urban,” Horne said. “The question is what does Farmington want to be.”
Wilson responded to her that Farmington is landlocked. He said he thought the homes in the development would be nice.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Wilson said. “We passed it once.”
After approving the rezoning request, the Commission unanimously approved a preliminary plat for a single-family development on the land. The preliminary plat is pending approval of the rezoning request by the City Council.
Residents Speak Out
Several residents in the area addressed the Commission to oppose the rezoning request.
This is the third time Barbara O’Brien of 336 Ridgeway Drive in Northridge Subdivision has stood before the Commission opposing rezoning requests for the same property. In April 2017, Home Star Rentals asked to rezone the land to multi-family. O’Brien was at that meeting and she also addressed the Planning Commission and City Council about the rezoning request in November 2017.
“It’s deja vu,” O’Brien said. “I was up here a year ago doing the exact same thing.”
O’Brien said she believes development is necessary for Farmington to grow but neighbors were concerned about rezoning the land to a higher density.
O’Brien pointed out an R-3 zone is medium density and is meant to be used as a buffer or transition from one zone to another. O’Brien said the property is adjacent to other land zoned R-1.
Under the city’s zoning code, lots in an R-3 classification must have a minimum of 10,000 square feet. Lots in R-3 zones must have a minimum of 5,600 square feet. R-3 is for single family residences only and allows one side of a house to have a zero lot line.
O’Brien noted Northridge Subdivision would be connected to the new development and would become part of that community. The new subdivision would bring more traffic, more noise, more litter, she said.
“I’m asking you as a commission, will this development change the character and stability of the neighborhood we live in?” she asked.
Another resident Jessica Collins, who also lives in the Northridge Subdivision said, “Growth for the sake of growth is not what the city needs.”
She said she realized the land would be developed at some point but thought it would be a similar neighborhood with 10-15 homes.
“Twenty-something of row homes is a lot different,” Collins said.
Her husband, Beau Collins, said he grew up in Farmington, left, and then chose to return because he likes the small town community and likes that Farmington is not like Springdale, Fayetteville and Rogers.
Referring to Farmington’s motto, “Feels Like Home,” Collins said, “If we’re going to go this direction, you might need to change it to “used to feel like home.”
Geoffrey Bates with Bates and Associates, representing the owners, responded to a few comments by the residents, saying the subdivision, called Engles Park, would be nice, single-family homes. He said the owners submitted the preliminary plat at the same time as the rezoning request so the commission and neighbors could see what is being proposed for the parcel.”
“I don’t see a better use for this land,” Bates said, noting Double Springs has property zoned commercial and has duplexes further down the road.
When discussion moved to the preliminary plat, Barnes told the Commission the houses in the development would not have zerolot lines but would have the required setback on both sides. The plat calls for 24 houses with one lot dedicated as the detention pond. Most of the lots are 0.12 acre or 0.13 acre. Nine lots are 0.9 acre or larger, up to 0.28 acre.
He said the owners were attaching what he called a “bill of assurance” to the development as a promise to meet certain standards. These standards would be a house with a minimum 1,700 square feet, 75 percent of the exterior would be masonry, the roof would have architectural shingles and all houses would have two-car garages.
Barnes said the homes would not be “row houses.”
He added, “We’re building a residential subdivision with single family housing.”
He said the owners were asking for the property to be rezoned R-3 because of the overall depth of the lots. A lower density for the land would not work, Barnes said, because the subdivision needs to have houses on both sides of the street to make the development financially feasible.
O’Brien asked if the houses would be rental property or owner occupied and Barnes said his intent is to build the houses to sell. The houses will cost $125-128 per square foot and sell for $225,000 to $300,000, Barnes said.
Horne asked about retaining as many trees on the land as possible and Barnes told her trees add value and he wants to keep as many trees as he can.
Barbara O’Brien of Farmington addresses Farmington Planning Commission about rezoning land on Double Springs Road to a higher density zone classification. The Commission voted 4-3 to approve the rezoning request.