Commission denies rezoning request for car lot at MLK and BenbowBy Yasmine Regester, Peacemaker Staff Writer / June 16, 2023
In a 5 to 1 vote, the Greensboro Planning and Zoning Commission denied a rezoning request on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and South Benbow Road at Monday’s meeting.
The properties located at 2005 and 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, (0.43 acres) is currently zoned as a Conditional District -Commercial –Low (C-L) and is 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.
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 fuel pumps and Gillespie Elementary School.
Local business owner, Akan Davis, applied for the rezoning to build a car dealership.
“My intention is to come in and continue to build the community. Which just so happens to be my community too,” said Davis.
His business proposal for the sites includes building a facility, a lot that can accommodate at least 25 cars, on-site maintenance, and would provide jobs and offer on-site finance options through his accreditation as a multiline insurance agent.
Seven people spoke in opposition to the rezoning request, citing concerns about increased traffic, increased crime, long term upkeep of the property, and proper water drainage systems.
“With what Mr. Davis is proposing, there will be less walkability. We are a historic neighborhood. Oil and grime come with car repair, that’s just what it is. Our street does not need a dump,” said Benbow Park resident, Pamela Leak.
Resident and local architect, Sharon Graeber noted that a car dealership would not fit within the overall aesthetics of the houses already there.
“We applaud the gentleman on his proposal. But we don’t feel that the site he is proposing is proper for a car repair lot. There are lots down the street that are vacant and eyesores. A car lot is not a good fit. We must be careful that we don’t take a business just because it meets the comprehensive plan. Get a business that already fits within the current zoning,” said Graeber.
Commissioner Engle stressed to the community that under the current zoning, another business owner could come in and develop the property that would not require them to come to the zoning department first, such as another gas station or a microbrewery.
“I do want the community to understand that, when you’re saying keep the zoning the way it is, this is a straight zoning. There are a lot of things that can be built there, and they don’t have to come talk to us about,” said Engle, adding, “But I don’t feel an auto repair service is something I want next to single family homes.”
Other commissioners agreed that they did not think a car dealership would be the best fit for the property.
“I think Mr. Davis has a great idea and great intentions. But I don’t think it meets the neighborhood’s criteria for growth. I can’t see five years from now, this business bringing in a whole lot of jobs and economic development,” said Commissioner Richard T Bryson.
Commissioner Vernal G Alford, III was the lone yes vote in favor of the rezoning request.
“I don’t see a problem with the application. I think looking at what’s across the street, I don’t think it’s going to be any worse than what you already [have] there – a gas station,” he said.
Since there was not a majority of six votes, the issue will now go on the agenda for the July 18, Greensboro City Council meeting for discussion.