Mayor pro tem Kathy Hykes cast the lone vote of opposition to another deferred item of business that concerned a request for light industrial zoning on three residentially-zoned lots along Maple Avenue just south of the Sheetz gas station.
This request from Christopher Powell, the son of a one-time city council member whose family owns a swath of industrial acreage in the vicinity, ultimately passed on a 4-to-1 vote during the council’s meeting on Tuesday. The rezoned area totals about 6.5 acres.
A majority of the council accepted Powell’s proposal despite the protests it had previously attracted from the residents of a condo development on the other side of Maple Avenue. Neighbors have said that Powell told them the requested zoning change was in order to accommodate a storage facility.
A number of these neighbors shared their concerns with the proposal during the council’s original public hearing in April. Since then, Burlington’s city clerk reported that she had received five more written comments, although she didn’t reveal what opinions these submissions conveyed when she mentioned them to the council on Tuesday.
The objections of the site’s neighbors were echoed by Hykes prior to the council’s decision on Tuesday. The city’s mayor pro tem noted that her own misgivings were based on multiple trips to the affected section of Maple Avenue, which is located just south of the interchange for I-85/40.
“Any way I look at it, it seems that we’re dropping an industrial zone in the middle of a residential neighborhood. . . With the hot real estate market, we really should consider keeping things that are residential the same.”
– Kathy Hykes, Burlington’s mayor pro tem
“I believe this is a necessary expansion of commercial activity along this corridor.”
– Burlington mayor ian baltutis
A majority of the council nevertheless saw no reason to oppose the transition to industrial use in spite of the neighborhood’s protests.
Councilman Harold Owen acknowledged that he doesn’t anticipate a substantial increase in traffic with the conversion to light industrial use.
Meanwhile, councilman Bob Ward argued that the property under consideration is unlikely to be developed for residential use, notwithstanding the fact that the three lots are presently home to three single-family residences. Baltutis also declared himself to be in support of the change based on his own visits to the area in question.
“I believe this is a necessary expansion of commercial activity along this corridor,” he went on to note before the council’s 4-to-1 vote.
See earlier Alamance News coverage of the zoning request and discussion:
Neighbors continue to object to proposed industrial zoning along Maple Avenue/NC 49 https://alamancenews.com/neighbors-object-to-proposed-industrial-zoning-along-maple-avenue-nc-49/
Planning board not keen on industrial rezoning request: https://alamancenews.com/planning-board-not-keen-on-industrial-project-along-residential-tract-south-of-sheetz-on-maple-avenue/