Fayetteville City Council members may decide Thursday night whether or not to allow developers to build a 33 townhome neighborhood on nearly six acres of land on the east side of the city.
That six-acre tract located directly behind the BP gas station on Hwy. 54 is currently zoned C-3 Highway Commercial, and developers are asking the city for a RMF-15 Multi-Family Residential rezoning. The RMF-15 zoning is considered a less intense use of the land, and, according to City Hall staff, it is in keeping with Fayetteville’s Future Land Use Plan.
Staff recommends that council members approve the rezoning Thursday night, but at least some of the neighbors in the adjacent Oak Brook subdivision see things differently. When Planning and Zoning Commission members reviewed the rezoning request at their Nov. 18 meeting, Oak Brook residents said they were against having new neighbors, and some even said they would rather see it developed as it is currently zoned.
Planning and Zoning Commission members then moved in a 3-2 vote to recommend denial of the rezoning, seemingly based on resident opinion and not based on City Hall staff information and recommendations.
As currently zoned, the six-acre tract could easily become a strip mall or any number of other commercial buildings. As it is also adjacent to a gas station and an oil change facility, some have suggested the tract could even reasonably be used for something more intense than retail shops.
When developer Mesa Capital Partners held a town hall meeting last week at Fayetteville’s historic Train Depot, an estimated 60 residents showed up to hear more about the proposed development, and some said they would rather see the tract remain completely undeveloped. That is, of course, not an option the city can legally impose on a property owner, nor is it a recommendation the city has entertained.
Brian Wismer, the city’s director of community development, has advised the city council to approve the rezoning request as presented by the owners.
“The applicant is proposing a townhome style apartment. This building style is less intensive than the standard multi-family, stacked-flat style of construction utilized in the other phases of the development, and will be a better transition next to the adjacent neighborhood of single-family detached homes,” Wismer wrote in a memo to city council members. “The townhome style of apartment is in agreement with the appropriate uses described in the Comprehensive Plan for Neighborhood Mixed Use.”
Wismer notes in his memo that the Oak Brook single-family home neighborhood already abuts the Cobblestone Fayette apartment complex, and this new townhome development would be a less-intense development.
One of the concerns some Oak Brook residents have expressed is that the new development would require that the wooded buffer between the two neighborhoods be depleted, but in a standard rezoning checklist report, Wismer stated, “The existing heavily wooded buffer between the project site and the Oakbrook subdivision to the east, which was developed as an R-30 PUD with minimum 1,200 square-feet single-family homes after Cobblestone Apartments were built, will minimize any impacts.”
Another concern shared is that the new development would add too much burden to the city’s sewer system.
The city has an answer for that, too.
Director of Public Services Chris Hindman wrote in a November 2014 letter that even after the new subdivision comes online, the city’s sewer system in that portion of Fayetteville will still only be running at about a quarter of its capacity.
“For the sewer line, this would be approximately 238 gallons per minute flow in the line,” Hindman wrote concerning the existing sewer flow levels. “Based on the conceptual flows of the proposed development of nine gallons per minute, that would increase the flow to 247 gpm. This is still just over a quarter of the 950 gpm flow that the line could handle.
“The flow from the development will be more thoroughly reviewed if the development moves forward with the development phase of the proposed project,” Hindman continued.
One final argument from Oak Brook residents was that the smell coming from the city’s sewer lift station would surely get worse with added use.
“This out-gassing is caused by a lift station located upstream from the subdivision and is not part of the gravity sewer line, which the proposed development would be using,” Hindman wrote in his letter. “The city is currently pumping a chemical into the upstream lift station in an effort to control the odor complaints.
“The cost is approximately $15,000 per year to pump the chemicals into the system,” Hindman added. “We will continue to investigate other methods of operation or chemical treatment in an effort to control the odors within the area.”