Only On 9: Rezoning request has some questioning Greenville’s future

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A lively discussion about one particular rezoning request in Greenville has some questioning what the future has in store for the city.

During a city council meeting Thursday, Jim Walker, representing Rivers and Associates, requested 7.87 acres of land located on Clifton St. near Evans St. be rezoned to office residential.

“It would be the ideal location for a town home, a condominium development,” Walker said.

However, some living in town homes near the proposed location weren’t happy about the plan.

“That is the history of Greenville, of development just supplanting the people who live here,” said Mollye Otis.

Some in the neighborhood believe contractors would just turn the land into yet another student apartment complex.

“When it gets this close to the university you get college students that rent there,” said Barbara Dunlap, who has lived in the neighboring town homes for 23 years.

The idea of an over-saturation of student housing was one reason Councilman McLean Godley voted against the request, joined by P.J. Connelly and Kandie Smith.

Godley said Greenville could likely face a vacancy crisis at student housing complexes if new proposals aren’t checked by “smart decision making and good governance.”

However, Walker said there is no direct plan to use the land as student living, but the option is still on the table.

“For someone to come to town and want to go that far away from campus to put student housing, they would be taking quite a risk,” Walker said.

The 3-2 council decision against the request had some scratching their heads. Councilman Rick Smiley said this development plan was smart for the city as they move forward in trying to become a more walkable community.

“This is the kind of growth that we’re asking people to do,” he said. “A growth that takes advantage of the stuff we already built. There’s already a fire department for this, there’s already a police department for this.”

Otis said this is just the most recent example of property owners suffering at the expense of development in the Greenville. She warns others not to stand by idly.

“The time is now,” she said. “We sure got sort of caught unaware of what was going on.”

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said he believed this request wouldn’t appear before council for another six months since it was voted down.

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