Changes coming to longterm vision for Rolling Hills Drive

Andrew Garner (right), the city’s planning director, speaks to residents at a public meeting held inside Rolling Hills Baptist Church on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The longterm vision for Rolling Hills Drive may soon change.

City planners are expected to soon recommend an amendment to a master planning document that’s been on the books for at least 20 years.

The change would ensure Rolling Hills Drive remains a two-lane roadway, despite its current classification, which calls for an eventual four-lane boulevard.

Rolling Hills Drive was labeled a “Principal Arterial Street” in the city’s Master Street Plan, which the City Council adopted in July 2011 as part of City Plan 2030. The plan is used in conjunction with the Master Trails Plan to help guide long-range traffic planning.

The document includes a vision for future streets and also makes recommendations for changes to current streets as the city grows. While some parts of the plan may never come to fruition, others are put into action when new developments spring up around town.

City staff turned their attention to Rolling Hills last year when a nearby property owner requested a rezoning for about 10 wooded acres near the intersection of Rolling Hills Drive and Old Missouri Road.

A closer look at the plan revealed the Principal Arterial classification for Rolling Hills, which is a label given to a road designed to carry high volumes of traffic with access primarily coming by way of cross-streets rather than individual curb cuts. But that’s not all. The plan also shows a future extension of Rolling Hills leading east from Old Missouri Road to Old Wire Road near the intersection of Crossover Road.

The requested rezoning was passed unanimously in July with no public comment, but a second rezoning proposal for about 22 adjacent acres has sparked the interest of many nearby residents who want to know what exactly to expect for both the existing and future Rolling Hills drives.

A sign notifying residents of possible changes to Rolling Hills Drive stands near the intersection of Old Missouri Road. A similar sign is planted near North College Avenue.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Mayor Lioneld Jordan, along with Ward 3 City Council members Sarah Bunch and Justin Tennant, stood alongside city planning staff during a public meeting held Thursday evening at Rolling Hills Baptist Church to meet with a roomful of curious neighbors.

City planners said after looking at traffic counts and studying the area further, the Master Street Plan’s vision for Rolling Hills was probably overkill.

Staff showed residents several options for how the Master Street Plan could be amended to ensure Rolling Hills Drive stays in character with the existing neighborhoods while also accommodating for the eventual development of the wooded area on the east side of Old Missouri Road.

Andrew Garner, the city’s planning director, said his department plans to recommend Rolling Hills be downgraded from a Principal Arterial to what’s called a Collector Street. The classification is given to streets that collect traffic from smaller residential streets in neighborhoods and facilitate traffic movement towards an arterial system. Collectors can vary in width and function, but may only include a third lane when warranted at certain intersections.

Downgrading the existing roadway could mean the street stays exactly as it is today. At most, Garner said, the sidewalks could be widened a bit to current city standards using whatever right-of-way the city already owns.

What happens with the extension could be drastically affected by the downgrade, however. Options include re-aligning the extension or even removing it from the plan.

The property owners seeking a rezoning of the wooded land would rather the extension be struck from the plan altogether so as to give more freedom for future development of the property. Staff said Thursday they’re still not sure what they prefer, but made it clear that some type of street system must eventually be designed to accommodate whatever is built on the land.

Last year’s rezoning cleared the way for a mix of residential and small commercial uses abutting Old Missouri Road.

If approved, the remaining undeveloped land behind Butterfield Elementary School would be rezoned as Neighborhood Conservation. The zoning is a single-family designation, but allows smaller lot sizes which could mean a slightly higher density than the four units per acre maximum of the current zoning (think The Cottages at Old Wire or the more recent Mission Heights).

The amendment to the Master Street Plan is scheduled to be presented at the Planning Commission meeting on March 12. The latest rezoning was on the agenda for the March 6 City Council Meeting, but an error was discovered in the application which will require the request to be sent back to the Planning Commission.

Planning Commission meetings take place at 5:30 p.m. in room 219 of City Hall.