Hearing set for contested zoning issue

By Tom Joyce - [email protected]

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners voted Thursday afternoon to set a public hearing later this month on a rezoning request for land owned by a local dentist, a move opposed by neighbors.

No discussion was held on the issue that involves property of Dr. Dean Simmons in the 1300 block of Forrest Drive. It is located off U.S. 601 in the vicinity of Holiday Inn Express and the Surry County Human Services Center.

Simmons has requested that the zoning for the 2.53-acre parcel be changed from its present classification of R-20 (residential) to B-2 (general business), with conditional district provisions. These typically involve flexibility for the use of land in a way not otherwise permitted within a particular zone, which may be allowed as long as certain conditions are met.

The property in question, now vacant, is situated in a predominantly residential section of Forrest Drive near its intersection with South Franklin Road.

Simmons is seeking the zoning change to accommodate a new 16,820-square-foot commercial (wholesale/retail) structure, the exact nature of which has not been announced. The development also would include site improvements such as landscaping and parking, according to city government documents.

However, the Mount Airy Planning Board — an advisory group to the city commissioners — ruled during a recent meeting that the proposed commercial use and zoning were not compatible with the surrounding residential areas. Several neighboring property owners spoke in opposition to the plan during that meeting.

This led to a 3-1 planning board vote to recommend the denial of Simmons’ request, a preliminary decision that the commissioners aren’t required to rubber-stamp.

When the issue reached its meeting Thursday afternoon, the board of commissioners scheduled the public hearing on the proposed rezoning as part of its passage of a consent agenda that included multiple items lumped together for a single vote.

The hearing, a statutory requirement before zoning decisions can be made, will be held during the board’s next meeting on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.

It was under a similar scenario that the city commissioners denied a rezoning request in August. It involved plans by a local mechanical contracting business, Broz Wilmoth-Thacker & Wall Service Co. Inc., to establish a new headquarters at 1326 N. Main St., among a cluster of homes.

The city board voted unanimously to deny that request for a site now restricted to single-family residential use, citing possible adverse effects for neighbors.

By Tom Joyce

[email protected]

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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