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Mini-storage proposal stirs crowd at planning meeting

Posted: August 19, 2014 - 3:24pm

It might come as a surprise that the most-debated issue at Monday night’s meeting of the Conway Planning Commission was not the Central Landing PUD.

The planners heard a brief presentation on the redevelopment of the old airport property, which will include a shopping center and possibly a hotel, with later developments to involve multi- and single-family housing. One resident raised a concern about environmental testing and also expressed a distaste for the rededication of taxes for new infrastructure that could be used elsewhere. The board was assured that multiple environmental studies are being done at the site.

The planning commission voted to recommend that the city council rezone the area from I-3 to PUD.

The lengthy debate of the night came over a proposed rezoning at 2215 Dave Ward Drive, where DT Real Estate hopes to purchase the land to build a mini storage. The proposed rezoning would be from O-1 to RU-1.

Bruce Jordan, architect for the project, described the building as “very upscale” with plenty of security, glass on the front and ample foliage in the back. He said it would have a low impact on the surrounding businesses, with only about 50 cars a day coming in and out and a low demand for water, sewer and electricity.

Mona Heath, the owner of 2215 Dave Ward Drive, gave an impassioned plea for the rezoning to go through so that she could sell her home. She said her home used to be surrounded by green space and animals, but as the area was developed, one by one her neighbors sold and moved. She said she believes worry over selling the home drove her husband to an early grave. Now, she said, she has no privacy as her home is bordered by apartments on one side and The Draft on the other.

Brent Salter, the developer of The Plazza at Centerstone, said in 2008 a group of people invested in a plan to rezone the area for a mix of office and commercial so that businesses could feed off each other. An RU-1 zoning, which he referred to as an industrial zoning, was never part of the plan, he said.

David Smith of Smith Family Pharmacy on Dave Ward Drive said, “We envisioned that this type of professional business would continue along the corridor. The bottom line is it just doesn’t fit.”

Planning Commission member Mark Lewis said there is “ample precedent” for a wide variety of uses on Dave Ward Drive, and he felt like some members of the audience were “trying to box us in.” He also said he sympathized with Heath, but noted he was not sure it was the right fit.

The planning commission decided to send the issue on to the city council without any recommendation. Regarding a special use permit to operate a storage unit at the property, the planners voted to recommend it if the city council approves the rezoning.

In other business Monday night, the planning commission voted to recommend:

• Annexation of 142 acres on Round Mountain.

• Rezoning of R2 to O3 at Meadowlake Road and West Street.

• Rezoning of R2A to O2 at Factory and Monroe Streets and a conditional use permit for a temporary bank.

• Rezoning of R1 to PUD at 2595 Nutter Chapel Road.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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