City Council votes down rezoning on MLK DriveBy Yasmine Regester, Peacemaker Staff Writer / July 19, 2023
The Greensboro City Council unanimously voted down a rezoning request on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive at Tuesday night’s meeting, citing the request is “inconsistent with the adopted GSO Comprehensive 2024 Plan.”
Council members considered the rezoning measure on the properties located at 2005 and 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, (approx. 0.43 acres), after it was not approved by the Greensboro Zoning Commission in June.
The properties in question sit on the corner of MLK Jr, Drive and South Benbow Road, bordered by several single-family dwellings, a small convenience store with four fuel pumps and Gillespie Elementary School. The lots are currently zoned as a Conditional District -Commercial –Low (C-L) and are primarily intended to accommodate low-intensity shopping and services close to residential areas. City statutes detail that typical uses in a C-L district may include limited-scale retail, restaurants, offices, and personal and professional services uses.
Local business owner, Akan Davis, applied for the rezoning, with the plans to open a used car dealership. The business plan that Davis shared included developing the two lots for a facility with two car maintenance bays, spots for 20 cars and seven parking spaces. His business plan also included a community piece where he promised to give at least three cars a year to families in need.
“My mission and vision are to provide automotive quality sales and service with excellence,” said Davis.
Alice Holley Neal, owner of the 2005 MLK Drive lot said she supported Davis’ vision because his rezoning request included a clause that would prohibit alcohol and sex-related businesses from developing on that property.
“In our neighborhoods it happens often. After cleaning up my lot, there were a lot of bottles that drug addicts had used as a hideout. I’m happy to fight for someone who will fight for our neighborhood,” said Neal.
Six residents from Benbow Park and surrounding neighborhoods spoke in opposition with more than a dozen more residents in the audience who were also against the rezoning measure. Those in opposition expressed concerns about increased traffic, increased crime, long-term upkeep of the property, and proper water drainage systems. They also raised concerns about the potential environmental impact on the neighborhood from oil and other chemical runoff from the potential car lot.
“We feel that this site is not the proper location for this type of business. We commend him [Akan Davis] on his business acumen and what he’s trying to do. We want to see that corner developed, but that is not the proper business for that corner,” said Sharon Graeber, who lives three blocks from the site.
Residents also pointed out multiple former car dealerships and car repair shops that are now abandoned buildings, which have become dilapidated eyesores along the MLK, Jr. Drive corridor.
While councilmembers applauded Davis’ business acumen, all of them agreed that a car dealership would not be the best use of the properties at MLK, Jr. Drive.
Sharon Hightower, District 1 representative, noted that the area of Benbow Park does not need a car lot, rather the neighborhood is in desperate need of other businesses such as medical clinics and grocery stores.
“A car lot is not something that that community is suffering from lack thereof. It’s just not a good fit,” said Hightower.