Posted: Tuesday, August 7th 2012 at 8:06pm
Neighbors outlast rezoning request
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Residents of an established Gainesville neighborhood turned out in large number for Tuesday night’s City Council meeting determined to stop a rezoning request and what many of them called "a first step towards changing the character" of their neighborhood.
But before the matter could be opened for citizen comment the developer/owner withdrew his rezoning application.
The established neighborhood mentioned above is a part of the Bradford-Ridgewood Neighborhood Planning Unit, established under the Gainesville 2030 Comprehensive Plan. It is one of thirteen such designated areas within the city.
The stated purposes of the Bradford-Ridgewood NPU are historic preservation, compatible infill development, increased safety, enhanced walk-ability, and tree canopy protection. Historically the area is single family residential.
In July of this year Gainesville resident and attorney Jonathan Pope appeared before the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board officially requesting that the single family home he had recently purchased at 135 North Avenue, near the intersection with Green Street, be rezoned from Neighborhood Conservation (N-C) to Residential and Office (R-O).
Pope wanted to use the 1800 square foot red brick single-family ranch house built in 1935 and situated on a quarter-acre lot as one of his law offices. Pope’s primary law office is in Canton.
But neighbors united, signing numerous petitions, and appeared before the Planning and Appeals Board that July evening to argue for denial. Although all who spoke that evening agreed that Pope presented himself well, they still felt that allowing any rezoning away from Neighborhood Conservation (NC) would open "floodgates" of future rezoning.
The Planning and Appeals Board agreed, voting 6-1 to recommended denial of rezoning.
However, the matter continued through the application process and was a part of the agenda for the Tuesday evening City Council voting session.
Shortly after the meeting was gaveled into session, Mayor Danny Dunagan told the audience that Pope had informed him earlier that afternoon that he was withdrawing his rezoning request.
Most of those who came to argue for denial rose to leave chambers, thanking the council aloud as they exited. Pope also departed, chatting with several of them as they left the room.
"It became clear that there was a lot of opposition to it," Pope said prior to the start of the meeting. "I needed to go back to the drawing board."
"I talked to a lot of the people who are here…and they say they understand that I am going to do a good job maintaining this beautiful building…but unfortunately there is a fear in the community of this being seen as some precedent for later zonings," Pope added.
"Despite my best efforts I haven’t been able to convince them."
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