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Planning board OKs zoning for high density homes; applicant pulls request for car wash

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Burlington’s planning and zoning commission has given its unanimous nod to a request to increase the density of a residentially-zoned lot along a fast-growing stretch of Kirkpatrick Road.

This particular request, which came before the city’s planning commission on Monday, calls for a change from medium to high-density residential zoning on this 1.91-acre parcel, which Barbara S. Thompson owns at 1210 Kirkpatrick Road.

1210 Kirkpatrick Road

Although Burlington’s future land-use plan recommends this property for general industrial development, the city’s planning staff had endorsed Thompson’s request due to its compatibility with neighboring land uses, including the nearby Ethan Pointe Apartments. The planning commission took its cue from the planning staff and voted 6-to-0 to recommend the request to Burlington’s city council for a final decision.

The planning commission had originally been scheduled to hear another rezoning request during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday. This second proposal, which was submitted by Manuel Diaz Marquez, had sought a “limited use” form of commercial zoning to permit a carwash and auto detailing business on the site of defunct gas station at 1038 Rauhut Street.

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1038 Rauhut Street

Marquez’s proposal is merely the latest in a series of “limited use” requests that the city has recently received from applicants who’ve zeroed in on auto-related businesses as the only permitted activities on the property to be rezoned.

Last Tuesday, Burlington’s city council unanimously turned down a similar request for a small car dealership at 806 South Mebane Street after an outcry from residents of the nearby Morrowtown neighborhood. Meanwhile, another limited-use request, which called for automobile sales and rentals at 106 South Broad Street, seemed to dodge the same fate when the applicant pulled it from the council’s agenda before it came up for a hearing that evening.

In both of these cases, the rezoning requests had come to council with negative recommendations from both the city’s planning staff and its planning and zoning commission. The staff, for its part, had advised against the requests due, in part, to their rather restricted take on the “limited use” option, which the city had originally proffered to give developers a way to weed out the more problematic uses in certain development districts.

In its report on Marquez’s rezoning request, the city’s planning staff had, likewise, withheld its imprimatur in light of the applicant’s narrow interpretation of “limited use.”

“A rezoning for [a] car wash or automobile detailing [service] only is too restrictive,” the planning staff goes on to argue in a memo that accompanied the planning commission’s agenda. “Staff would recommend that the applicant consider amending their request to include additional neighborhood-oriented uses.”

Jamie Lawson, Burlington’s planning director, told The Alamance News that the rezoning request for 1038 Rauhut Street had been withdrawn from the planning commission’s agenda so that the applicant could make a few tweaks before it comes back before this appointed advisory board at some later date.

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