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Planning Commission rejects rezoning request for duplexes

White Hall property developer Ricky D. Cook saw his request to have several acres of land rezoned from single-family residential to two-family residential unanimously denied Monday.

The White Hall Planning Commission was asked to consider the rezoning of two-and-a-half acres of land at the southwest corner of Gamble Road and McGehee Street to R-2 residential to allow for the construction of duplexes.

“I’m in the duplex business and the city has allowed for the building of duplexes on R-2 zoned land,” Cook said. “People have come before this commission to request rezoning to R-2 and have had their request approved.

“I’m not the bad guy here,” Cook said. “I’m just trying to expand my business. I just thought this property would be good for my business.”

Mayor Noel Foster asked the audience of about 25 who were ready to speak against the request if he could speak for the group in the interest of keeping the meeting short. They agreed.

“The property is contiguous in some manner to existing R-2 zoned land but McGehee Street is a narrow road and we don’t have the budget right now to be able to widen it, Foster said. “Gamble Road is narrow as well. There is already a large parcel of undeveloped land zoned R-2 at McGehee Street and Dollarway Road that could be developed. Based on this, the city opposes this rezoning request.”

Southeast Arkansas Regional Planning Commission Director Larry Reynolds said that the staff recommended rejection of the request.

“The staff feels that the extension of the R-2 zone beyond McGehee Street into the R-1 predominantly owner-occupied residential zone would lead to uses that would have a negative effect on property values,” Reynolds said. “Furthermore, the deficiency of adequate road width causes concern with increased density to the area. White Hall has planned for and has adequate R-2 zoning.”