Board opposes shopping center

Oct. 27—HIGH POINT — Opponents of a proposed shopping center in north High Point scored

Oct. 27—HIGH POINT — Opponents of a proposed shopping center in north High Point scored a victory Tuesday with a Planning and Zoning Commission vote.

The city advisory board unanimously recommended denial of a developer’s request to rezone 12 acres at the southeast corner of Skeet Club Road and Johnson Street to allow a 75,000-square-foot commercial project consisting of a grocery store and outparcels, possibly including a restaurant.

The commission agreed with city planners and neighborhood opponents that the project would be out of character with the surrounding area, which is predominantly residential.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that you would place commercial structures in that space. Residential completely surrounds it,” said Commissioner Terry Venable.

Tuesday’s vote does not stop the project, since the commission only makes recommendations to the City Council, which is scheduled to hear the case Nov. 15.

A large group of neighbors packed City Hall to oppose the request from developer Halvorsen Holdings of Boca Raton, Florida, which is seeking to change the zoning of the property from residential single-family to a conditional zoning retail center use and conditional zoning limited business.

Neighbors collected 900 signatures from opponents and voiced a variety of objections, including arguments that the project would disrupt their neighborhood and open the door to more commercial growth.

“If I want to go to Publix, I can drive 10 minutes,” said Georgette Brousseau, who organized a petition campaign against the project.

Several opponents also voiced concerns about preserving the historic value of the Mendenhall-Blair House on the zoning site, which dates to the mid-19th century and is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape to free states.

Andy Harris, an attorney representing the applicant, said his client is willing to pledge in writing as a binding zoning condition a commitment to relocate and preserve the house to a corner of the site next to Skeet Club Road.

Harris argued that the city’s long-term plans do call for commercial services in this area to support the booming population growth of recent years.

“This is not the Palladium. It’s not the Harris Teeter (shopping center) up on Skeet Club and 68. That is not what is being proposed here,” said Harris. “We are trying to enhance those neighborhoods by providing needed services.”

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