Fountain: Please send this back to planning board

shocked_kidsVeronica Fountain thought that today’s council vote on correcting the zoning of her neighborhood, which is around the old Pickens school site, so that it matches the city’s Comprehensive Plan would be routine.

Instead, the city council will be voting to keep the school property, which is now owned by Manna Food Pantries, out of the Medium Density Residential zone.

“I’m stunned,” said Fountain. “I knew they were planning something, but I never would have thought this.”

Last week, she had contacted Inweekly because she was hearing that City Hall was stirring things up in her neighborhood.

I contacted the City PIO Vernon Stewart and asked about a public notice that was sent to Fountain.

He replied:

“Zoning is being brought up to match the future land use that was changed in 2010-2011 to match what residents wanted to protect them from commercial uses that did not enhance residential uses of neighborhood.

Planning Board did approve this change at their June 2015 meeting. This request is a part of several, where the Future Land Use Designation and the current zoning do not match and this would change that to avoid issues with potential development matching the zoning but not the Future Land Use Designation.”

Stewart may not have known that city council is being asked to rezone the Pickens site so that a 76-unit apartment complex can be built there.

Fountain said, “We would like to see homeowners on that property. We thought that maybe Habitat would build affordable houses there.”

She said that she plans to speak at today’s council meeting. She will point out that the recommendation being presented by the city planning staff is not what the planning board passed. The request to allow the apartment complex is actually a variance request and should be handled as such.

Fountain said she hopes that the council will send the new proposal to the planning board for review so that she and her neighbors can have more time to study it.

“It sad when you feel like the city planning department is working against the residents of this city,” said Fountain.