Pocket neighborhood idea in Greensboro not getting warm reception

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Neighbors on Lawndale Place in Greensboro may be surrounded by Country Park, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park and businesses along Lawndale Drive, but they don’t want to see those amenities draw a new neighborhood concept to the street.

Spark Development has asked the city Zoning Commission to rezone 2.3 acres of land within the neighborhood from residential use only to a planned unit development.

If approved, it would pave the way for a pocket neighborhood. The concept is gaining popularity around the country and would be the first approved in Greensboro.

The concept packs several small homes without garages around common space areas that the community shares.

John Stratton, of Spark Development, said the land would fit 21 homes and every unit would be less than 1,000 square feet. Stratton said the home size could appeal to empty nesters who are looking to downsize or first-time home buyers.

“We're just trying to generate some product that's new to the area,” said Stratton. “I think Greensboro needs infill. There's lots of good spots in Greensboro that are 2 to 5 acres that could be developed that need to be developed to present new and unique opportunities for residential growth.”

Stratton thinks that could start with the area on Lawndale Place but current residents have other plans.

“We're not against development, we're against a bad decision to inject a neighborhood within our own area for which it doesn't match the neighborhood,” said Mike Anderson, who has lived on the street for 10 years.

Homes along Lawndale Place typically sit on at least half an acre of land. By packing more homes into the neighborhood Anderson said the population of the neighborhood would double along with traffic on the no outlet street.

Since the rezoning notification was sent out two weeks ago, Lawndale Place neighbors have banded together with businesses and homeowners along Lawndale Drive, Lake Jeanette Road, a group supporting Country Park and also the Friendly Coalition to fight the move.

Staff members with the city of Greensboro’s planning department recommend that the Zoning Commission move forward with the zoning change to allow for the pocket neighborhood development.

“I think the opportunity is really trying to figure out ways to bring in new investments in areas that may not have had investments in certain areas or certain lots and do it in a way that's complimentary,” said Mike Kirkman, the zoning administrator for the city of Greensboro.

The rezoning question goes before the Zoning Commission June 8. If approved, the city council could have the issue before it in July.