Density, traffic thwart Fayetteville annexation request

Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson. File photo.
Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson. File photo.

Fayetteville, county seeking deal about bringing northside tract into the city

An annexation request for approximately 44 acres off Banks Road and Ellis Road into Fayetteville brought significant discussion at the Feb. 8 meeting of the Fayette County Commission. The outcome provides a way for the city and county to work together to potentially avoid arbitration.

Above, Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson. File photo.

The developer’s initial proposal to the city would be to construct 162 residential lots for Residential-Townhouse Condominium zoning. The county’s land use plan calls for one unit per acre.

County Planning and Zoning Director Pete Frisina said the county’s objection dealt with issues pertaining to the need for a traffic study and a stormwater runoff plan to meet current standards. Those two items were included as recommended conditions for approval.

The deadline for objection is Feb. 15.

The initial action from the commission came as a motion to object to the annexation request. Prior to a vote, commissioners heard from Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson and city Director of Planning and Zoning Jahnee Prince.

Johnson said county staff made excellent recommendations on the conditions that allow the city to manage the development, adding that meetings between the city and county have already occurred and that the city is ready to conduct the recommended studies.

“We will not allow the density if it cannot be accommodated by either infrastructure or traffic,” Johnson said. “However, just as your comprehensive plan has indicated you want to maintain the rural atmosphere, our comprehensive plan has indicated that people want downtown development. It will be managed growth. But, obviously, you all are set in your ways about the density. And I understand that. But this is a new day, a new time. If we want our city, our county, to be progressive, we really need to be able to exercise the right to be able to have increased density. But let us manage it. And trust and believe that the council and the staff are capable and competent enough to be able to manage the growth.”

Johnson’s point is bolstered by the large number of city residents, both at multiple town hall meetings and a citizen survey with 554 people responding, who envision the city that Johnson described: a vibrant, walkable downtown with retail and chef-driven restaurants and the density to support those things.

Commissioner Steve Brown weighed in, saying the proposal could be brought back to the board, and with Commissioner Charles Rousseau saying he was inclined to agree with managed growth, adding that the annexation proposal, along with another potential city development adjacent to it, led him to have reservations. Rousseau said he was open to having city and county staff meet on the issue

Johnson said the city is willing to have the traffic study performed. Johnson said the city is open to a dialogue with the county prior to a vote being taken.

Johnson said the council would be amenable to having a called meeting to have the developer withdraw the annexation request prior to the Feb. 15 deadline for which the county is required to make a decision. Then city and county staff can meet to arrive at the best solution for the proposal.

Frisina said that if the proposal is withdrawn in a timely manner, the commission’s objection becomes moot. Prince said staff will begin working on the issue immediately and, if needed, ask the applicant to withdraw the request.

Commissioners then took up the issue, deciding on a 3-1 vote, and with Commissioner Charles Oddo opposing, to object to the request without conditions. That move will provide Fayetteville with the opportunity, if needed, to have the developer temporarily withdraw the request and give city and county staff time to consult on the proposal before returning to the board. If an impasse remains at that point, the matter will be subject to arbitration.