One year ago, the Jamestown Planning Board approved creating a new Planned Use Development zoning district for the town. On Nov. 23 the Board decided a PUD was not what it wanted for the Johnson property along Guilford College and Mackay roads.
In a 6-1 vote, the Board rejected the rezoning request by Diamondback Investment Group from Agricultural to PUD for 2221 Guilford College Road (27.89 acres +/-), 5300 Mackay Road (30.70 acres +/-), 2207 Guilford College Road (384.49 acres +/-) and 5303 Mackay Road (0.6 acres +/-).
This was the seventh, and shortest by far, meeting held to discuss the plans put forth by Diamondback for nearly 467 acres of primarily farmland to be called Castleton Village. The latest plans called for 1,269 units – down 343 from initial plans – including single family, townhomes and limited commercial.
Board members expressed their thoughts about the project.
"I don't think it is a good fit for Jamestown," said Richard Newbill.
Ed Stafford said he came to the meeting expecting to vote in favor of the PUD rezoning but changed his mind.
"I really like the PUD concept," said Stafford, a realtor. "It's good to have mixed use. I love the overall concept.
"I have gotten stuck on the lot size. I'd like to see 10-12,000 sq. ft. lots and a minimum of 1,600 sq. ft. homes. The homes and townhomes are a little too dense and a little too small. The overall caliber … is not up to par with what we set for Jamestown."
"The prospect of having the PUD so we could help build the nice, diverse type of PUD was a good idea, but this isn't what I was looking for," said Russ Walker. "The process of trying to work with the developer has not been pleasant."
Sherrie Richmond reminded the Board of the already overcrowded local schools which would be severely impacted with this type of development.
Dennis Sholl has walked the property.
"I've spent the last two weeks almost doing nothing but thinking about this," Sholl said. "There is not enough diversity in the sizes [of lots and structures]. I like the idea of the PUD. I like the mixture. I'm not sure I want commercial development in there. PUD is a nice thing. This is not."
"I had hoped the [new] plan would have more diversity of housing options and in lot size," said Sarah Glanville, board chair. "I think a PUD is the best option for this piece of land … but this isn't the [right] plan."
She added that of all the people she had spoken with about the rezoning, only the veterans and representatives of the Vertical Church who spoke at the last meeting were in favor of it. Diamondback has offered a donation of 15-20 transitional homes for wounded warriors as well as property on the southwest corner of Guilford College and Guilford roads for the church.
Only Steve Monroe voted in favor of the PUD rezoning.
"I have taken this [job] very seriously and thought about it long and hard, not just for now but for the future of Jamestown," Monroe said. "I think we need to give these folks a chance. We are landlocked. This may be our last chance to come up with a plan to diversify our housing in a meaningful way."
Monroe also is concerned about the need for affordable housing. He pointed out that some of the changes requested by the Planning Board would put the price of Castleton Village out of the range of many people who might have moved to Jamestown.
Board member Cara Arena was absent.
The Planning Board recommendation of denial will now go before the Town Council, which is expected to set a public hearing date for January 2021 at its December meeting.
As a backup plan, Diamondback has already submitted a second request for a rezoning from Agricultural to Single-Family Residential for the Johnson property.
"We are not anticipating any deviation from the original PUD request at this time, so we will not bring any additional requests unless the original one is withdrawn," said Planning Director Matthew Johnson, no relation to the property owners.
Johnson added this would "allow them to be more efficient in their submittal timelines in the event that they withdraw the PUD request."
Contrary to earlier reports, no plans have been submitted for a single-family development, just a rezoning request.
As for the one section of the property that was discovered to be under Greensboro jurisdiction, not Jamestown, Johnson anticipates "the developer would likely petition the General Assembly to "swap" it to Jamestown to clean up the sliver of land at some point in the future." Approximately 0.41 acres at 5230 Mackay Road lies within Greensboro's jurisdiction.
The Board welcomed Kenneth Clouser as the new audio/video operator, freeing up Johnson to handle only planning matters. A new camera brings a sharper video and the ability to pan and zoom.
There was an audio glitch, however, just as the Board started to vote.
"We think we've narrowed it down to our hardware and have been in touch with the company who helped install it," Johnson said. "We hope to resolve it soon."
PHOTO by Carol Brooks
Cedar trees along Guilford College Road could become victims of development of the Johnson property.