Farm­ing­ton Com­mis­sion Votes 4-3 To Ap­prove R-3 Zone

NEIGH­BORS OP­POSE HIGHER DEN­SITY ZONE

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - NEWS - By Lynn Kut­ter

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.”

Devel­op­ment De­scribed

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.

LYNN KUT­TER EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

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.

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