Monday, March 9, 2009

The Morning News reports that Planning Commission approves first deviation from Walker Park Master Plan

The Morning News
Please click on image to ENLARGE view of East South Street area proposed for rezoning discussed at a Jennings Plus Neighborhood Association meeting at 1 p.m., Saturday March 7, at 25 East South Street.

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Planning Commission Approves Zoning Change For Walker Park Neighborhood

By Skip Descant
FAYETTEVILLE -- In a divided decision, the Fayetteville Planning Commission approved a zoning change request for the Walker Park neighborhood. The change comes less than a year after approval of the Walker Park Neighborhood Master Plan.
Voting 5-4, the commissioners approved the zoning change for a 0.25-acre plot at the corner of South Street and South College Avenue, where property owner Steve Winkler wants to build a three-story apartment building with 12 studio units. The request was to rezone the property from neighborhood conservation to downtown general.
Commissioners Matthew Cade, Lois Bryant, James Graves and Porter Winston voted against the move, saying the commission needs to respect the ideas from residents who came together for community design sessions when the Walker Park plan was being drafted. And even though a prior request by Winkler to rezone was also approved by the planning commission, the request was denied by the Fayetteville City Council. The new zoning request also needs council approval.
"This isn't a property that's been zoned this way for 10 years, 15 years and this is someone coming in wanting a change," Graves told his fellow commissioners Monday night. "This is a property that was brought up specifically, and that was looked at specifically by the City Council."
"It hasn't had a chance to work yet," said Winston, of the Walker Park plan, and who did not want the plan altered.
Residents in the area appear to be at least questioning Winkler's development ideas.
At a Saturday afternoon neighborhood meeting
about 15 neighbors met to discuss the plan and ask questions. Some concerns had to do with increased traffic in the area, while others wanted to know about actual building layout and appearance.
"The other main objection is people didn't want change," Winkler said.
The majority of planning commissioners agreed with the planning staff, saying downtown general on Winkler's corner lot is an appropriate zoning and would not destroy the area's close-knit neighborhood qualities.
"It doesn't seem strange to create a node that has a zone like the other three corners," said Christine Myres. "I'm generally in favor of this."
But at least one resident wondered about what sort of a message he should take from the planning commission if approval for the zoning change was granted.
"Are you really going to stand by the citizens of Fayetteville that participated in the charette process?" asked Tony Wappel, who lives on South Street and is the Washington County archivist. "Or, are you going to change it for the next person that wants to build an apartment complex?"
Please click on images to ENLARGE view of single-family homes that owners to remove in favor of apartment buildings. The owners' request to rezone will be discussed at 1 p.m. Saturday at a dance studio a half block west on East South St. and then again by the city planning commission at 5:30 p.m. Monday.


Anonymous said...

First, what is the point of Neighborhood Conservation if this happens?

Second, isn't there a glut of empty apartments in Fayetteville already? Are MORE apartments what this city really needs?

Roselyn Cicerone said...

Mr. Winkler's statement that the residents of this neighborhood don't want change is absurd. Every single structure on this block immediately west of him has undergone dramatic change during the time I've lived here. As opposed to being against change, we've created it. Everyone around here that I know of regards Mr. Winkler's proposal as a change for the worse.