JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - For six years, the 30 acres of land along Parker Road and Paula Drive has been slated for commercial use. Tuesday night, however, developers aimed to change that.
"We think having multi-family, which is residential, is much better than the present zoning for a high commercial use," Rick Griffen of Fort Smith told the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.
Residents didn't agree.
Jonesboro's MAPC was met with a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday night as they considered that rezoning request.
"The question today is this: Is this proposed site layout with upscale multifamily development better or worse for the neighbors than the present zoning?" Griffen asked commissioners.
Griffen's plan was for a mix of development.
Site plans show everything from high end apartments to a variety of commercial businesses.
"There will be 76 one bedroom, 92 two bedroom and 12 three bedroom units," Griffen said. "The multi-family project is intended to be upscale in both appearance and price point."
Though the site plan also showed plans for commercial buildings such as a restaurant, bank, commercial retail and gas station, Griffen admitted the only portion of the site fully planned was the apartment complex.
"Other than the multi-family depicted, the buildings displayed on the other lots are our best guesses," he said. "We were required to show some type of buildings on them."
That statement and the site layout gave many the feeling that the proposal was not for a mix of use as presented.
"Frankly, what you've got here, is a commercially zoned piece of property for which a variance is being sought to build a big apartment," resident Brett McDaniel said.
In fact, residents said they preferred just commercial property for that tract of land. More than 400 signatures were presented against the rezoning.
"In 2008 when this property came up for rezoning, we realized that this is commercial property," George Krennerich said. "This is not R-1 property, no one wants to build a house on an interstate-quality highway. We realized it was commercial property, we didn't fight it."
When it came down to it, a majority of the commissioners felt the same way.
"This does not seem to me to be as integrated as what I'd normally think of with a planned unit development. It seems to me that we have an apartment complex on one side and commercial development on the other," commissioner Brant Perkins said.
Seven of eight commissioners denied the rezoning request.
Developers will have the chance to appeal the MAPC's decision.