The City Council of Fayetteville got their first official look at a proposed plan to build a stretch of commercial properties backed by townhouses across Highway 85 from Lowe’s. Just a first reading and not ready for a vote, council reacted positively to the rezoning requests necessary to make it happen.
The property, totaling roughly 35.8 acres, would be split into a 14.3 acre section of commercial property on Highway 85 and a 21.4 acre chunk behind, to be zoned for up to 68 townhouses.
The commercial strip would be composed of a mixture of restaurants, a bank, a gas station and yet to be determined retail. Developer Matt Boone said he has been in contact with a number of tenants who have expressed interest. The proposed 68 townhouses would feature historic architecture and restore the stream in the area to its natural state.
Calling it a great investment for the city, Boone expressed optimism in what it could mean for Fayetteville.
“It’s a very viable and good plan that fits for the area and corridor,” said Boone.
Director of Community Development Jahnee Prince noted that city staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of the rezoning requests because of the townhouse section of the plan.
“Lovely as they may be, the city’s comprehensive plan and future land use maps calls for medium density residential here,” she said. “What they’re asking for is just not a fit with our comprehensive plan.”
Mayor Ed Johnson read a statement expressing support for the project, in part because the land has sat empty for so long.
“This property has been zoned (single family residential) for more than 20 years, and no one has been interested in it for medium density residential,” he said.
Planning and Zoning Commission member Brett Nolan expressed concern over ignoring the recently-updated comprehensive plan, especially in ignoring citizen feedback and setting a precedent for developers to ignore their input. He also felt it runs counter to focusing on revitalizing downtown Fayetteville.
“It feels like a project of this residential density this far from downtown is not going to help move Fayetteville forward, but actually eliminate all the hopes and dreams for our downtown,” he said.
Councilman Rich Hoffman, who was on the steering committee for the comprehensive plan, acknowledged that they likely messed up in leaving the area zoned single family residential because it was unlikely any developer would take that zoning on right along Highway 85.
“I have to say, I think we screwed up,” he said. “I feel like this is the best fit.”
Johnson agreed that it might be prudent to reconsider the comprehensive plan’s stance on the plot.
“Perhaps we should consider other development types here,” he said. “This is a commercial corridor, and I cant imagine someone would want to live along Highway 85 North. It makes sense to have commercial uses along the corridor.”
The night represented the first reading of the proposed rezoning. The second reading and vote will come at the next council meeting.