At Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, developer Tom Hayley agreed to shelve his planned commercial development near the Donahue Ridge subdivision, at least for a few more months.
The commission had previously tabled three items relating to the project at its meeting in March after nearby residents came out in droves to oppose the project, which would have included a 60,000-square-foot shopping center and 65,000 square feet of other commercial buildings.
Though not as many North Donahue Drive-West Farmville Road neighbors attended Thursday night
“I, like so many, won’t be shopping at those stores,” said area resident Jennifer Jackson. “I would rather have the stars above me and not have to have light pollution. I sit in the driveway with my kids and look at the stars, and that won’t happen anymore because they’ll be too much light pollution. Yes, this is an emotional plea, but that’s all I’ve got.”
Site plans presented in March included a loading dock for the shopping center that would be as close as a few dozen feet from some homeowners’ properties.
At that meeting, commissioners chastised the developers for failing to communicate with neighbors. Hayley, who said he was at the meeting at City Council’s request, said on Thursday that he had talked to some neighbors since then.
Site plans for the nearly 14-acre lot had not been altered before Thursday’s meeting and an updated traffic study had not been completed, enough to give many commissioners pause on recommending approval for the full project.
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The commission voted 5-2 on Thursday to recommend the rezoning of the lot to Limited Development District, a measure that was tabled at the March meeting, but few things can be built in LDD without approval from City Council.
“I’m willing to get (neighbors) involved, take a deep breath, back up from this,” Hayley said. “I’m at the point of working with these guys and tabling it for several months.”
The commission voted to table the remaining two items relating to the development — the planned development overlay and approval for the businesses — until its meeting on Aug. 9.
Before then, Planning Commissioner Sarah Brown asked Hayley to reexamine issues neighbors had with the plan such as buffer-yards, drainage, safety
“I think you can do something really great here,” Brown said about the lot. “I’m just going to tell you, I had a dream about it. Put some silos out there, make it really cool and funky. … Make the people who are around there who are going to be using these places happy with what is there, and make it a quality aesthetic, high-end development.”
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