Council rejects student housing project
by Anna Oakes
The Boone Town Council voted unanimously
Tuesday to deny a request to rezone a site on Clawson Street off of Perkinsville Drive to allow
for a 266-unit apartment complex.
Greensboro-based Mega Builders
had contracted with Wayne, Dana and Joy Clawson and Anna Greene to purchase about 20 acres for the
10-building complex. The parties requested that four parcels currently zoned R-3 Multi-Family and
M-H Manufactured Home Park be rezoned to Conditional District R-3 Multi-Family with a
The property owners stated at public hearings
that a mobile home park on the property is scheduled to close Oct. 4 whether or not the rezoning
“It still goes back to how much more student
housing do we need in this town,” said Councilwoman Lynne Mason, who has been a consistent
advocate for affordable housing in Boone. “Those are the issues that I’ve been
wrestling with. It’s about compatibility; it’s about what our community
“It takes away an affordable housing option
without offering an affordable housing alternative,” she said.
“If there was a sense of contributing to the community other than
economically … I could be more sympathetic,” said Councilman Rennie Brantz.
Prior to the vote, the council reopened a public hearing to allow the
applicants to respond to a letter sent to council members this week from residents of Wickham
Square stating opposition to the project, which they have described as being in their backyards.
The applicants and neighborhood residents previously spoke at a public hearing Aug. 6 and a
Planning Commission meeting Aug. 13.
Attorney Charlie Clement,
who is representing Mega Builders and the current property owners, opened his comments with a
statement directed at Councilwoman Jamie Leigh, who lives on Perkins Street off of Perkinsville
“There’s not a whole lot I can say to
influence you,” Clement said. “I would ask first of all that if there’s any one
of you … who although may not have a financial dog in the fight, if you live so close to the
property, or you are so biased because of where you live, that you cannot be objective, that you
should not vote here tonight.
“All we’re asking you
for is fairness,” he added.
In response, Leigh said she
does not believe she will be financially impacted the project and that she had not made up her mind
about the request prior to Tuesday afternoon.
The developer and
property owners had offered to use proceeds from the property sale to provide $4,000 to each mobile
home owner to assist in relocation costs.
receives scattered site housing funds from the N.C. Department of Commerce to assist with housing
rehabilitation or relocation for low-income families. Joe Furman, county planning and inspections
director, said the county is slated to receive $225,000 in scattered site housing funds that likely
will be allocated in 2013.
“So, conceivably some of those folks (in the Clawson Mobile Home Park) could be eligible for assistance, though the timing may not work out,” Furman said. “Plus we already have a waiting list, and $225,000 will not stretch very far.”
• The board voted 3-2, with Mayor Loretta Clawson
casting the tiebreaker, to deny a request to rezone King Street properties owned by Hospitality
House and First Baptist Church from B-2 Neighborhood Business to B-1 Central Business. The site at
302 and 316 W. King St. is the former location of the Hospitality House homeless shelter, which
relocated to a new facility off of Bamboo Road in March 2011.
Leigh said she was concerned about the potential uses of the property if it were
zoned B-1 and said she preferred to wait to rezone the property until after the town’s Table
of Permissible Uses is revised.
In addition to Clawson,
Councilman Andy Ball and Councilwoman Jamie Leigh voted in favor of the motion to deny the request,
while Councilmen Allan Scherlen and Rennie Brantz voted against the motion. Councilwoman Lynne
Mason recused herself from the discussion and vote because she is the executive director of
The Planning Commission had recommended
approval of the request by a vote of 7-1.
• The council unanimously voted to approve a request from Lowes Home Center Inc. and Innkeepers of Boone Inc. and Shore Management LLC to rezone their property on Blowing Rock Road from conditional use general business to B-3 general business to easier facilitate the future sale of a portion of the Lowes Home Improvement parking lot. Lowes representatives said they do not need all of the current parking and hope to bring a new business to the site.