City Council denies rezoning to bring TROSA to East Winston

Earlier this week, the City Council voted to deny rezoning that would have repurposed The Commons of Forsyth County for a facility that would house recovering addicts and other programs offered by TROSA, a nonprofit residential substance abuse program.

City Council denies rezoning to bring TROSA to East Winston
May 09
00:00 2019

The plan to open a facility for recovering addicts in East Winston came to a screeching halt earlier this week when the City Council voted 7-1 to deny the rezoning of The Commons of Forsyth County and more than 16 acres of land along Old Greensboro Road.

If approved, the request to change the official zoning map from MU-S (Mixed Use-Special Use-Residential Building) and RS9 (Residential, Single Family) to GB-S (General Business-Special Use zoning) would have opened the doors for TROSA (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers Inc.), to open its first facility in the Triad. Founded in 1994 by Kevin McDonald, TROSA is a nonprofit residential substance abuse recovery program that strives to help individuals through vocational training, education, peer counseling, mentoring and leadership training.

Based in Durham, TROSA had intended to convert the existing apartment buildings and unoccupied buildings located on Felicity Circle and Felicity Lane, into a group care facility that provides room and board for about 250 people, including personal care and rehabilitation services for those in need.

Dan Jewell, who was hired by TROSA to develop plans of the facility, noted that the application for rezoning was in compliance with the area plan and TROSA did their due diligence to receive feedback from those who live in the community. He also noted City/County Planning Staff recommended approval and The Commons has been used to provide similar programs in the past.

“The application is within compliance. We worked with the neighbors and the staff to develop a project that will be good for the community,” said Jewell when speaking to the City Council on Monday, May 6.

TROSA director of men’s programs Jesse Battle was also on hand to speak on behalf of the non-profit organization. Battle said over the years the program has seen a number of participants in the program who had to travel from the Triad to participate. Although they are based in Durham, Battle said more than 10 percent of all participants in TROSA are from Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point.

Battle mentioned Winston-Salem was the ideal spot for their Triad location because it provides opportunities to connect other organizations. He said, “Just looking at the partnerships that are available in this rich community, it expands on our programing and it offers so many opportunities for the residents of our program as well as Winston-Salem.”

Susan Frye, Forsyth County Clerk of Court, and Sherri Cook, district manager for community supervision with the N.C. Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, also spoke in support of TROSA during the council meeting.

Robert Durrah Jr., who serves as secretary of the Forsyth County Board of Elections, was the only person signed up to speak in opposition of the zoning change. Durrah raised questions about the facilities’ proximity to an elementary and high school, and the impact the facility may have on property values in the area.

“My concern is not that this is the incorrect program or that it is something that we don’t need it necessarily. My concern is, does it have to be there? Could it be somewhere else? Could it actually be on another side of town? Could we have more than one site? That’s my concern,” he continued. “And I think it’s worth considering because if we don’t have services widely distributed, folks won’t access them no matter where they are and I think that’s an important piece to this.”

When it came time to vote, Mayor Tempore Vivian Burke made the motion to deny rezoning. Councilmembers Dan Besse and Annette Scippio encouraged representatives from TROSA to consider opening the facility in a location that is already zoned for GB-S.

Besse said, “This is not a vote on whether TROSA is a good program or whether or not we want TROSA in Forsyth County. I think this Council has already said yes to those questions. The question here is whether this is an appropriate change for this site.”

Scippio noted that the City Council has made land use decisions in the past that has hindered the East Ward. She said, “We have the opportunity to look completely at our city and stop reinforcing a negative image for parts of our city.

“I want us to be mindful of what the eastern side of our city has to face and we must reverse that image of what goes in the eastern side of the city. We must change that and I ask you to look at what you would like your wards to look like.”

The lone “Yes” vote came from Councilmember Jeff MacIntosh, who represents the Northwest Ward.

In other business, the City Council approved the rezoning of the northeast corner of Old Walkertown and Motor Roads from LI to LB-S (Retail Store). The property is expected to be the site of a Dollar General. The Council voted 6-2 to approve the change.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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