Commission tables big new development

Published 10:26 pm Friday, October 24, 2008

The Planning Commission agreed Tuesday that it needs more time and more information before deciding whether to recommend a rezoning for a new multi-use development located a quarter-mile south of Bridge Road.

The development would be a “trade campus” with 20,000 square feet of retail/office space, 59,100 square feet of office/warehouse space, 26,400 square feet of office space, 98,000 square feet of multi-story storage and 26,500 of mini-warehouse storage space.

Despite the positives of such a development and the fact it is compatible with the 2026 comprehensive plan, planning staff recommended denial of the rezoning, because the development would not meet “adequate public facility standards” as they apply to road improvements.

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The recommended improvements to the roads to make up for the traffic increases would cost almost $1.8 million.

Attorney Whitney Saunders with Saunders, Barlow, Riddick & Babineau PC is representing the property owners and spoke before the Commission to seek support for the project.

“I don’t think the purpose for all of us here is stop development,” he said. Saunders added that the only problem the staff report highlighted with the project was the increase in traffic, which he said was projected to be 2.2 percent.

“If 2.2 percent traffic is enough to take a good project and defeat it, then we’ve got something we need to fix,” he said.

Commissioner Ronnie Rountree said he agreed the project sounded good, but he believes the city should stop its “piecemeal” approach to allowing developments.

“We’ve got to put a stop somewhere, and it’s nothing related to this project,” he said. “It’s a nice project…all the projects that come in are nice projects, and somewhere along the line we have to say enough is enough.”

Commissioner George Richards disagreed, calling the project “too good to turn down.”

Commissioner James Shirley was of the same mindset, saying that the alternative was to turn down the significant proffers associated with the development, including installing half of the median on Shoulders Hill Road, installing left and right turn lanes into each of the campus’ entrances, and a $72,000 cash contribution for the construction of a right turn lane at Shoulders Hill road onto Bridge Road.

“I think now is the time to take the money and run,” he said.

Commissioner Ross Boone asked Saunders how much money the development would cost, or how much money it would bring in. When Saunders said those figures were not available, Boone moved to table the issue until the next meeting, at which point Saunders could present results from a fiscal impact analysis.

The motion carried unanimously.