BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Mena Planning Commission met for their monthly meeting on Thursday, May 19, to discuss placement of a new radio tower and the to hear a request for the rezoning of three lots.
Gerald Golden, owner of property on Highway 71 North, submitted a second rezoning request to the Planning Commission after being denied a reclassification in January 2016. The property in question sits on Hwy. 71 North, at the forefront of the Rogers Housing Addition, also known as Lakeside Addition, and was inherited by Golden who wishes to sell the property.
In January, Golden asked the commission for the reclassification of the property from R1 to C2, but was denied and later brought an appeal before the full Mena City Council. Upon hearing concerns from homeowners, the Council also denied the request. Concerns ranged from traffic inflow into the housing addition, as well as not knowing what type of structure may be constructed on the property. Trying to find a middle ground, Golden changed his request to R2, which would allow for ‘one or two family dwellings, churches, doctor and dental clinics, or any other use permitted by the R2 Two-Family Residential District designation.”
The council room was packed with opponents of the request, all of which live in the housing addition. One homeowner, Gary Floyd, submitted a petition that was signed by 37 residents of the neighborhood, opposing the rezoning. “Most of us moved there because of the quality of the neighborhood and we’d like it to stay that way,” said Floyd. David Alley said, “I’ve lived in the addition for 20 years and I like it the way it is.”
Golden was unable to attend the meeting and was instead, represented by his attorney, Larry McCredy, of Fayetteville. McCredy said the new rezoning would be consistent with the properties surrounding Golden’s, including the Farm Credit office and Grace Bible Church, among others. One vocal resident in attendance replied, “We don’t want consistency, we want it the way it is.”
After hearing from McCredy and residents, Ed Gibson, chair of the Planning Commission said they usually have an idea of what is to be built on a property before approving a rezoning request. McCredy responded saying the commission has taken so long that any prospective buyers aren’t willing to wait and continue to move on to other properties. “We requested this meeting in February and are just now meeting. My client lost his prospective buyer because of the delays.” McCredy also contends that the Rogers Addition’s protective covenants remain and would bar any unwanted businesses or structures from being constructed. However, residents in the room made it clear that they want no changes in the property.
After hearing from both sides, the commission voted unanimously to deny the rezoning request. The property will remain zoned under R1.
Also at the meeting, the commission approved the construction of a new tower on Lot 13 of St. Johns Grandview Addition, as requested by the Mena Water and Sewer Department. The 110 ft. tower will assist in reading water meters, as well as give Mena Fire Department a tower to relay from. An old tower on the site will be removed before erecting the new one.