JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Circuit Court Judge John Fogleman has ordered the Jonesboro City Council, once again, to reconsider a rezoning they denied in 2013.
The city decided to go to court over the issue last summer. The rezoning will be discussed Tuesday, March 7 at a city council meeting in downtown Jonesboro.
In March 2013, the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning Commission approved rezoning nearly 50 acres of vacant land located near Keely and Lexee Streets. Unico Bank requested the land be rezoned from single-family use to a mix of single-family and multi-family.
A record of the MAPC meeting states the rezoning would have created 37 single-family lots, 22 single level duplexes totaling 44 units, 12 single level 4-plexes totaling 48 units, and 22 townhomes with a total of 48 units. The total project would have resulted in 177 new single- and multi-family units.
In June of that same year, the rezoning was discussed for the third and final time by the Jonesboro City Council. At the meeting, community members raised concerns about increased density, increased crime, flooding, traffic and more if the rezoning was approved. The council denied the rezoning, with only four of 12 council members voting in favor of the request.
"From the minutes of the City Council meeting and from the testimony of the individual members there is no proof before the court that the City Council ever discussed or considered 'the criteria for approval of a rezoning' as required by Jonesboro City Ordinance 117-34 (e)," Judge Fogleman said in his court order.
Jonesboro City Ordinance 117-34 (e) details seven criteria for approval of a rezoning. In Nov. 2016, City Planner Derrel Smith proposed eliminating a requirement that stipulates how long the land has been vacant as criteria for rezoning.
"As a result of the City's failure to follow its own requirements contained in Ordinance 117-34 the court finds that the City has acted arbitrarily," Judge Fogleman's court order reads.
"To be clear, zoning decisions of a municipality (including whether or not to rezone) are legislative decisions and these decisions are to be made by the governing body of the City (and not the court) unless those decisions are arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable," Judge Fogleman said. "This court is not directing the City of Jonesboro to come to any particular conclusion but it is ordering the City to follow its own ordinance and to specifically consider the approval criteria..."
The court order was handed down February 14. The council was given 60 days to reconsider the rezoning request.
A similar instance happened in 2016 when Judge Fogleman said they ruled arbitrarily and capriciously in a rezoning request on Aggie Road.
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