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City considers rezoning ‘Cordova Triangle’ back to residential

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A 20-acre chunk of land hedged by Germantown, Cordova and Neshoba roads will likely be rezoned back to a residential district.

The city’s Planning Commission was scheduled to vote on the rezoning Tuesday night during its regularly scheduled meeting.

Shaped like a pie piece and commonly referred to as the Cordova Triangle, the area had possibly drawn interest for a future multi-family development.

Currently zoned as T4 “general urban overlay,” the parcel drew attention from Germantown’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this year after an 18-month moratorium was passed on future apartment developments in the city.

Vice Mayor Mary Anne Gibson made an amendment to the moratorium in January to rezone the corner back to single family residential.

The city rezoned the Central Business District in October 2007 as part of the Smart Growth Plan.

Prior to the adoption of the Smart Code, the Cordova Triangle parcels were zoned residential. After more than a decade, there has been no development project application filed with the city to develop any of the parcels.

The Triangle parcels have remained single-family residential since the adoption of the Smart Code. Some of the tract is heavily wooded with a mature canopy of trees while the other parcels include mature trees and vegetation along with the single-family homes. The adjoining neighborhoods (Germantown Heights and Neshoba North) have remained largely unchanged west of Germantown Road as well.

However, across Germantown Road to the east, more than $175 million in new developments have been completed or are under construction. These developments include Thornwood, Somerset, expansion of the Village at Germantown Retirement Community, and the proposed Grove at GPAC. Thornwood consists of approximately 108,354 square feet of mixed-use retail, hotel and residential uses on 16.84 acres.

Somerset consists of 43 single-family homes. The expansion of the Village added 33 independent living units. The proposed Grove at GPAC will be an outdoor entertainment venue with a capacity of up to 900 people.

As a result of the public and private development across the street from the Triangle, including higher density residential, active public spaces, entertainment venues, retail and hotel property, the neighborhood has changed.

The concentration of vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic, as well as anticipated high levels of citizen participation in the area when considering the context and character of the existing neighborhoods, shows that the application of the T-4 permitted uses within the Triangle would no longer be wise community development.

Therefore, in the interest of public necessity, convenience, general welfare and good zoning practice, the city seeks to return the area to its origin residential zoning. In so doing, the property and the surrounding neighborhoods will be protected from any impact that would be occasioned from high-density development of the Triangle.

The Germantown Code permits changes in zoning districts, “whenever the public necessity, convenience, general welfare or good zoning practice justifies such action.”

The basis for a zoning change could also include that the existing zoning is “unwise, unjust, and erroneous, that there was a mistake in the zoning, or that there has been a change in the neighborhood.”

Mayor Mike Palazzolo addressed members of the city’s Planning Commission last December regarding plans to establish a temporary moratorium on “stand-alone, multi-family developments” in Germantown’s Smart Code zoning districts.

The move came after the city’s Economic and Community Development Department acknowledged a significant uptick in requests from developers wanting to build new apartments to Germantown.

The moratorium does not affect projects that have already received “some level of approval.” It only applies to future applications.

“With the increase in interest from multi-family developers, we just need a bit of time to really dig in and assess the impact of these types of developments,” said Palazzolo.

Palazzolo said the city will use the 18-month period “to study related demographic trends, burden on and access to city services, schools, infrastructure, emergency services and more.”

“Rapid development of multi-family units can result in a disproportionate impact on city resources, services, utility systems, traffic, schools and public safety,” he continued.

A handful of multi-family projects near Germantown’s southeast corner and the central business district are currently being developed or built.

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