City Approves Rezoning
Jonesboro Mayor Hubert Brodell broke a 6-6 tie Monday, granting property owner Anita Arnold's request to rezone 20 acres of property from single-family residential to commercial use.
Approximately 80 people indicated their opposition to the measure. One neighbor who voiced support for the proposal at the council's Sept. 20 meeting said Monday that he had changed his mind after doing further research.
Arnold proposed rezoning 20 acres of property located a quarter-mile north of East Johnson Avenue and a quarter-mile west of Bridger Road from Residential R-1 to Commercial C-3. The land abuts another 36-acre tract that's already zoned C-3. Arnold also owns that property, which fronts East Johnson. The land is located across the road from the Crowlye's Ridge Girl Scouts office.
Real estate broker Kent Arnold (no relation to Anita Arnold), who is attempting to develop the property for Mrs. Arnold, said he wants to develop a large-scale planned use complex on the property. He said the property would have limited access and would feature acceleration and deceleration lanes to aid in traffic safety.
Using a PowerPoint video presentation, Arnold showed the distance between the north property lines from neighboring houses and the large number of trees which already serve as buffers. He added that he was willing to take additional steps to provide a buffer at the property line.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission recommended approval at its September meeting after hearing little opposition.
However, at the Sept. 20 council meeting, several people objected, preferring to keep the land zoned for single-family residential use.
Arnold had previously attempted to rezone the 20 acres to R-3, for multi-family use, but backed away because of intense opposition.
Preston Williams, whose house is located approximately 500 feet north of the property line, distributed a booklet to aldermen, explaining why he has changed his position. He said he earlier endorsed the C-3 proposal because it was the lesser of two evils.
Williams said Kent Arnold has had a history of seeking C-3 zoning, only to come back later and have the property rezoned for multi-family housing.
Williams expressed skepticism that Arnold's commercial development would succeed, noting that 57 acres is far more property than that occupied by Indian Mall and Blackwell-Baldwin Ford combined.
He said neighboring residents are prepared to spend thousands of dollars in a court fight to defend their property values.
Also speaking against the proposal were Paul Wallace and Bob Ryan, a representative of Respect Our Neighborhoods.
Aldermen Alec Farmer, Harold Perrin, Bill Roddy, Ann Williams and Dave Young voted in favor of the rezoning. Voting against it were Aldermen Darrel Dover, Judy Furr, Jim Hargis, Tim McCall, Chris Moore and Cecil Province.
Before casting the tie-breaking vote, Brodell asked Chief Building Inspector Ron Shipley, the interim city planner, how the MAPC stood on the issue. Shipley responded that the commission voted 6-0 in favor.
"Based on that, I'm going to endorse the MAPC," Brodell said following the hour-long debate.
Brodell said following the meeting that it was the first time in 10 years that he has had to break a tie. He said it was a hard decision, that many of the opponents were his friends, but that he had to vote his conscience.