BY MELANIE BUCK –
Mena City Council confirmed a decision made by the Mena Planning and Zoning Commission and denied a rezoning request at a special meeting held at City Hall on Monday night. The Mena Planning and Zoning Commission had previously denied a petition in October to reclassify the zoning status of a property that sits on Hwy. 71 North, at the forefront of the Rogers Housing Addition.
Gerald Golden, owner of the property in question, had originally asked the Commission to rezone the property from an R1 to a C2 so that a VA Clinic could be built. C2 zoning has permitted uses that would allow retail establishments that provide goods or services for the motoring public (such as a convenience store), office buildings, automotive service, repair and storage (such as a salvage yard), motels, tourists courts, day care centers, and more.
Upon hearing of the request, Rogers Addition property owners and residents drafted a petition and circulated it through the neighborhood last September to stop the process, citing noise and traffic brought in by any business would interrupt their normal routines and living environment.
After the request for rezoning the property was halted by the Planning and Zoning Commission, Golden lost his potential buyer and enlisted the help of legal counsel. At Monday night’s special called City Council meeting, Golden’s lawyer, Larry McCredy of Reece Moore Pendergraft LLP of Fayetteville, addressed the council and rebutted claims of noise and traffic, saying that the ‘ingress and egress’ of a parking lot would only be in and out of Hwy. 71 frontage, and that a doctors office would not likely produce much noise.
However, fears of what type of business a C2 zoning designation would allow was one of many concerns voiced by the packed audience of property owners, especially since the VA clinic is no longer in the picture. Concerns such as: Would there be a guarantee of what type of business could be built on that property? Would the ‘restrictive covenant’ within the Rogers Addition keep a landowner from building something the homeowners didn’t want, such as a convenience store, etc.
City Council heard all concerns from both sides of the issue and a motion was made to deny the request to rezone the property to a C2, in the interest of the homeowners. After a vote, the request was denied. One option suggested to Golden would be to attempt to rezone the property to an R2 zoning status that would limit some of the construction possibilities. Under R2 zoning, permitted uses are: one-family dwellings, two-family dwellings, churches, parks, playgrounds, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, doctor and dental clinics, and day care centers.
It is unknown at this time if Golden will seek to rezone to an R2 status. Mena Mayor George McKee told The Pulse Tuesday morning, “I believe the people put us in here and when they turn out 100% like they did last night, you have to listen to them. They put us in office and you need to listen to their concerns and wishes. I believe the people should come first because this is a democracy.”