A rezoning request for a half-acre property brought more than a dozen people to the Conway Planning Commission meeting Monday to voice their concerns about the potential rezoning.
The property in question sits at the corner of Forest View Road and Church Street. And the owners – Joseph and Georgia Kapshuck – want to rezone the property from residential to highway commercial to sell it.
But the neighbors wish to keep it within the residential zone, citing concerns over public safety, fearing additional traffic and the range of businesses that could potentially be built there if the site is rezoned.
“I can’t imagine what commercial traffic would be,” said Ron Johnson, who lives nearby. “I just think it’s wrong for you to consider it for this neighborhood.”
The city's intent for highway commercial properties is "to provide compatible locations to serve the automobile oriented commercial activities in harmony with major highway developments, reduce traffic congestions and to enhance the aesthetic atmosphere of the City," according to city documents. A wide range of businesses could go on highway commercial properties, from a car dealership to a drive-thru restaurant, a hotel or an office supply store.
Neighbors also said people drive through the neighborhood to avoid the stop lights in the area.
Lee Singleton, who is also a nearby resident, said he built his house in 2004 and never thought about commercial properties being close to him.
“I don’t see why we need to disrupt this neighborhood,” he said, adding he understands the owners’ wishes to sell the property for the best price. “But we’ve got to look out for our own neighborhood.”
The property at 1301 Church St. currently holds a single-family house. Joseph Kapshuck said he bought the property in 1999 as an investment and eventually rented it to his children.
“We really didn’t mean to upset a lot of people,” Joseph Kapshuck said. “We did it as an investment.”
There was a question about a potential curb cut along Church Street because the property is accessible from Forest View Road. Staff said there is no curb cut along Church Street, but the owners said there is. The city’s planning staff said if the property was highway commercial, there would not be restrictions regarding where the property could be accessed from. However, residential properties have to follow certain guidelines about how properties are accessed.
City planning staff recommended the planning commission give “careful review” of the proposal.
“It’s a long-established single-family neighborhood,” said Allison Hardin, the city’s planning director, adding staff only received letters against the request and none in support of the change.
Ultimately the planning commission, which makes recommendations to city council, voted 3-2 against the rezoning Monday evening.
Now, city council will make the ultimate decision.
The item is expected to go before council at its meeting on Oct. 17. Though the public hearing process for this item was already held at the planning commission meeting Monday, the public may still make comments about the request during the public input session. The meeting starts at 4 p.m. and anyone wishing to speak may sign up prior to the meeting.
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