Lancaster denies rezoning for land near McDonald's

January 08, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LANCASTER - The City Council did its best to play Solomon Tuesday night by trying to find a middle ground in the dispute over a proposal to turn nearly 13 acres off U.S. 27 into housing.

In a politely contentious special meeting, the council unanimously rejected David Land's request to rezone the land behind McDonald's restaurant and sent the matter back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for reworking.

P&Z had recommended that the council approve Land's request to change the agricultural zoning of the land to residential R3, or multiple-unit housing. The council, however, voted to have P&Z consider changing all but three lots of the subdivision to R2, which is slightly more restrictive than R3.

Land, who wants to build a subdivision aimed at retirees, initially responded by saying he would sue the city in circuit court.


"I've had a couple of lawyers tell me, 'Let them reject it. You'll do better in court,'" he said after the meeting.

City Attorney James S. Sanders, who did not attend the meeting, said Wednesday that Land has the right to sue the city if he chooses.

Land said Wednesday that after reviewing his plans, changing the zoning to R2 wouldn't be as restrictive as he first thought. He would only lose four or five lots, he said. He was agreeable to the council's recommendation and likely will take his reworked project back to P&Z on Jan. 20.

"It's not like it's that big of deal, actually," he said. "I will go ahead, just for the sake of time."

Land was proposing a 31-unit development in the area bordered by Hagan Court, Lexington Street and Pin Oak. His target buyers, he says, are retirees who don't want large yards. He also wants to build a few townhomes and an assisted-living center. He originally sought 50 units for the land.

In response to a question Tuesday night, Land initially said changing the zoning from R3 to R2 on all but three lots would reduce the project's number of units by seven.

Earlier in the meeting, Land sought to assure the council that his project would have minimal impact on its neighbors. Among the new restrictions he proposed for the subdivision were a homeowners' association and a minimal age limit for permanent residents of 25.

The homeowners' association, he said, would ensure that residents would abide by the development's rules and restrictions.

"I think if you have good folks, you have a good homeowner's association," Land said.

Wayne Smiley, speaking for neighbors opposed to the zoning changing, argued that there were still too many homes in the project and that it would wreak havoc on local traffic. "I think density and access continue to be our main concerns," he said.

Smiley, who called R3 zoning "the lowest common denominator in terms of residential inhabitant restrictions," acknowledged that the development of the land was likely.

"Something's going to happen in that lot over the years, I have no doubt," he said, adding that whatever is built should be the best housing possible. "I don't think R3 zoning will do that," he said.

Replied Land: "Just because you live in R1 doesn't make you any better than anyone else."

When the possibility of changing the zoning to R2 was broached, Smiley said that would be acceptable.

"A petition of R2 would cause me to sit down and hush," he said.

Linelle Cain, whose property abuts the land, said she was worried that the development would cause excessive water runoff. She and her husband, Danny, already have had to install extra drainage, she said.

Land said the project would have adequate drainage.

"The problems they discuss, I can't promise they'll be any better, but they won't be any worse," he said.

Sue Ledford of Merriwood Estates was the only person in the audience to speak in favor of the proposal. She said her mother wanted to live here but couldn't find a place before she died. She also has a disabled sister, she said, who needs housing like Land is proposing.

"I just came here to ask you to consider these things," Ledford said to the project's opponents.

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