On Tuesday, Nov. 13, there is a very important zoning issue being voted upon by the Winterville City Council. Here are the pertinent facts up to this date about the rezone:
Rob McNiff wants his property at 370 Athens Road in Winterville rezoned to commercial to sell to Joe Cascio whose expressed purpose is to redevelop the property so he can operate a commissary kitchen for a food service operation located at 195 Oak St. in Athens.
Without all the legally required information for an application to rezone, the Winterville Planning and Zoning Board on Sept. 5 voted unanimously to recommend to the Mayor and City Council that this rezone be approved on the basis of avoiding the property potentially becoming Section 8 rental property and that the P&Z Board should do what they can to help McNiff sell his property.
At the city council public hearing on Oct. 2, the turn-out by citizens opposing the rezone was phenomenal. The opposition had a powerful presence as nearly every single person in attendance spoke out against 370 Athens Road being rezoned to commercial.
At the city council meeting on Oct. 9, Mayor Dodd Ferrelle recommended tabling the vote until Nov. 13 so he could organize a citizen advisory group whose purpose would be to put conditions on the property to try to reach a compromise between the citizens in opposition and the prospective buyer.
As the date of the City Council’s final vote on this rezone approaches, we have serious concerns about the following:
We question how this spot rezone will benefit the citizens of Winterville when Cascio’s food will be served and sold in Athens, the tax revenue will go to Athens-Clarke County, not to the City of Winterville.
Cascio’s site plan has been incomplete during this entire process as it does not contain all the required data as set forth in the zoning ordinance for the City of Winterville.
When it has been brought up at public forums that there is existing commercial property available in the City of Winterville, Cascio’s reply has been that it’s too expensive for his business plan. With this reasoning, why should the city spot rezone for someone whose business plan doesn’t support working within the existing zoning and infrastructure already in place?
The current zoning ordinances for the City of Winterville offer little to no protection for existing residential areas against commercial creep.
A group of citizens, comprised of six residents who live on Athens Road, Gordon Circle and Carney Lake Road, met with Mayor Dodd Ferrelle on Oct. 28. During this meeting, the mayor pushed the attendees to provide conditions for the property rezoning. Members of the meeting pointed out to the mayor that the site plan is still woefully incomplete and in good conscience they could not provide conditions at that time. In spite of their concerns, the mayor said the intended use for the property was not a pertinent concern of his any longer. Up until this point, the entire issue has been defined and presented to the public as whether or not to rezone 370 Athens Road to commercial status for the existing building and property to be used for the expressed purpose of it being food service establishment or commissary kitchen.
The Winterville City Council will be voting as to whether or not 370 Athens Road will get rezoned to commercial on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 pm at Winterville City Hall, located at 125 North Church St. in Winterville. We hope to see you there.
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