Graham’s city council has twice recently shown a reluctance to expand the B-1, downtown business district, to two areas near downtown, the latest proposing to move commercial zoning into a largely residential neighborhood near North Maple Street.
In doing so, it would bring business zoning to a largely residential area behind the Oneida Mill Loft apartments.
Council members also expressed concerns that the business zoning would allow significant flexibility for the developer without guarantees or conditions that the council wants to ensure certainly minimum quality standards and protection of adjacent neighbors.
Council members, like planning board members last month, were reluctant to allow such broad, “straight” rezoning, without any enforceable method for ensuring what would subsequently be built.
The latest proposal came before the city council last week, when developer Jason Cox asked the council to rezone four lots, totaling 1.15 acres, along West Market Street from residential to B-1.
The lots – 302 North Maple Street, and 203, 207, and 213 West Market Street – would have no guaranteed parking, but Cox insisted that people could use public parking lots within a block or two away.
[Story continues below photos.]
But council members also noted that the B-1 zoning would allow zero setbacks, with buildings potentially up to the front lot line, as well as several stories high.
Mayor Jennifer Talley and councilman Bobby Chin invited Cox to reconsider the project with a potential request for conditional rezoning; both suggested that the city council would be more amenable to his proposal. Both suggested that the specificity of his proposal was needed to reassure those in the existing residential neighborhood.
In the meantime, the council voted 5-0 against the requested rezoning.
UPDATE: A new submission, given to the city within the past week, now proposes conditional residential zoning to allow 40 dwelling units on the same four lots. Graham’s planning board to consider this new request tonight (Tuesday, March 15, 2022).
Previous coverage of recent planning board consideration of the same plan rejected by the city council: https://alamancenews.com/planning-board-recommends-against-expanding-downtown-business-district-to-maple-market-streets-residential-area/
And an earlier, broader request from 2021:
Planning board recommendation: https://alamancenews.com/planning-board-prefers-mixed-use-to-all-commercial-for-residential-neighborhood/
And city council action: