Greensboro residents still fighting against commercial rezoning

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Friendly coalition has hired a lawyer to help advocate against the rezoning on the corner of Hobbs and West Friendly Avenue.

Sunday, the Coalition held an information meeting for neighbors about the request to the city to build more than 60,000 square feet of retail space.

Neighbors at the meeting oppose the rezoning due to traffic concerns, the character the community would lose and the possibility of future residential rezoning attempts.

Judith Howle has lived in the community for 10 years and said the development would better suit an area of the city that needs grocery and retail stores like east Greensboro.

"There are lots of places that really need grocery stores and they're not even interested in looking at that. I think it’s ridiculous for the planning committee the zoning committee and the city council that they don't look at this," Howle said.

The Friendly Coalition also plans to fight for change in the long term Connections 2025 Comprehensive Plan for the residential lots.

Thomas Terrell of Smith Moore Leatherwood Attorneys at Law represents Halpern Development of Atlanta.

Terrell sent the following statement about the interest and communication with the opposing neighbors.

The six property owners have been trying to sell their properties for development for four years. Two of these properties are rent houses and a third is not habitable. The first two developers withdrew their applications. The most recent developer (also my client) withdrew only because Trader Joe’s withdrew as a tenant afterthe Zoning Commission approved the project by a vote of 8-1.

This 6.77 acres is the only residential tract on the north side of Friendly in a 1.3 mile stretch from Holden Road to Centenary United Methodist Church. The developer would not be extending non-residential use. Rather, this is infill development for the few last remaining homes in this 1.3 miles of road.

The developer has offered many conditions to create compatibility with surrounding homes, including a 115-foot buffer between the site and the Hobbs Landing subdivision, plus a 13-foot brick wall and substantial vegetation. At their request, operating hours are limited and signs will not be internally illuminated.

Every owner in Hobbs Landing bought their lot and built their home knowing that Shoppes at Friendly already was directly across the street.

The same brick wall on the south side of Friendly would be extended one more block.

The developer, Halpern Development, has proposed and is considering three high-end retail options. The three retail options each includes a specialty grocer of varying sizes, high-end retail shops in different sized buildings, and in the third option the grocer is smaller but a bank has been added.

The Zoning Commission hearing will be held on Monday January 12th at 5:30pm.

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