New business denied after neighborhood objections

New business denied after  neighborhood objections
August 10
04:00 2017

The Winston-Salem City Council voted unanimously against a zoning request that would’ve allowed for an auto repair shop at 300 W. Clemmonsville Road after near-by residents objected.

City Council Member James Taylor, who represents the Southeast Ward the site is in, said though he sided with the residents, that it was a tough decision to make and praised the initiative of the zoning petitioners.

“I think that the planning staff, I think that the petitioners and I think that the neighborhood are all right at the same exact time,”  said Taylor, who is also The Chronicle’s publisher.

Most City Council zoning votes receive unanimous approval because any issues between the petitioner and area residents are worked out before hand. This was the case earlier during the council’s Monday night meeting when it unanimously approved zoning requests for the expansion of the Gallery Lofts downtown and to reclassify undeveloped land adjacent to the Waughtown Cemetery for cemetery use.

But that didn’t happen in the zoning request for a former Texaco gas station and garage at the the corner of Clemmonsville  Road and Konnoak Drive. The gas station was considered a non-conforming use in its residential area when it was annexed into the city years ago. Now that it’s been vacant for years, its non-conforming status has expired and requires special use rezoning for a business to be placed there.

Jennyfer Bucardo, spokesperson for Azam Properties, told the City Council that Azam would like to buy the property, fix up the vacant building there and  turn it into a Jiffy Lube-like business. 

“Azam Properties is more than willing to invest in this property in order to make it atheistically pleasing,” she said.

She said that since the road is already a major thorough-fare the business wouldn’t affect traffic. County Commissioner Fleming El-Amin spoke and vouched for Waqas Azam, manager of Azam Properties, who is a former student of his.

However, the rezoning drew opposition from residents, with more than 200 petition signatures against it.

“This type of business is way too intense to be directly across from the entrance of the Konnoak Hills Community and will negatively impact the residential homes and neighborhood area,” said Konnoak Hills Neighborhood Association President Carolyn Highsmith.

Another resident, Jesse Adams, said the service station had a use before the area become more developed, but wouldn’t have a purpose there now. He said that there are several automotive repair places nearby and he’d rather see the lot remain vacant than add another one there.

Due to groundwater pollution left over from the gas station, the site has restrictions on it against residential use, but Highsmith and other residents said they’d like to see another business in there that would generate less traffic and be more pedestrian friendly. Low intensity uses vary, but can include coffee shops, drug stores, sit-down eateries and small bookstores.

Azam Properties is still considering buying the property and finding another lower intensity use for it.

Highsmith has opposed other zoning requests for higher intensity uses in the area, like the pedestrian business zoning requested on Cleveland Avenue for the Salvation Army’s proposed new location of its homeless shelter for women and  families. She said in that case, it was the zoning designation that could open the door for more intense uses she opposed and not the shelter itself.

The Salvation Army dropped its zoning request last week after neighbors objected to the shelter. The nonprofit is under pressure from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to find a new location for its shelter that is separate from its half-way house for those transitioning out of incarceration. Currently both programs are located at the Salvation Army Center of Hope on Trade Street.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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