Lewis Ford appeals rezoning decision for dealership in west Fayetteville

Process Dynamics on Deane Solomon Road / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Fayetteville City Council members next week will consider an appeal of a recent Planning Commission decision to deny a rezoning request for a car dealership in west Fayetteville.

The commission last month voted 8-1 to deny a proposal from Lewis Automotive to rezone 5.06 acres on Deane Solomon Road from a residential district to a commercial district.

Company officials said the plan is to relocate the dealership from North College Avenue to west Fayetteville because their current home is landlocked and there’s no more room to grow.

The property is north of Mount Comfort Road, and is currently the site of Process Dynamics, an engineering consulting firm. The land, which sits at the corner of Deane Solomon and Moore Lane, is largely undeveloped with the exception of a roughly 7,700-square-foot office building and a cell tower.

City planners also recommended against the request, as the city’s long-term planning goals typically advise against rezoning property to the outdated C-2 Thoroughfare Commercial district. Planners instead tend to favor form-based districts, which encourage walkability by putting parking lots behind the buildings instead of along the roadway.

Suzanne Clark, an attorney representing the Lewis brothers, said she knew that getting approval for a non-form-based district would be an uphill climb, but she hoped the commission would make an exception since the property abuts other land that the brothers own on Shiloh Drive, which includes about 20 more acres of C2-zoned land.

City of Fayetteville

The property is about 1,000 feet from the back side of the Adventure Subaru dealership, and nearly a third of a mile from Crain Hyundai. And, as Clark pointed out, a Kia dealership is also planned in the area.

Commissioner Leslie Belden said she believes the property is a good fit for a car dealership, but she’s hesitant to approve a request for C2 along Dean Solomon.

“I think a lot of car dealerships are being built along the interstate, and this is becoming the norm over there,” she said. “But the difficulty for me is that Deane Solomon Road has residences that are on the road and in fact, there are new condos being built in that area as well.”

She suggested the Lewis brothers consider a Commercial Planned Zoning District for the property instead of a blanket C2 rezoning. A C-PZD is a custom district that’s designed by the applicant to be used only for a specified use instead of allowing a variety of uses that might be considered inappropriate in a certain area.

“I personally would feel more comfortable with that,” said Belden.

In an appeal letter, Clark said while it’s evident that requests for C-2 zoning are likely to be denied outright in virtually all cases, this particular instance deserves an exception so that the five acres in question can be zoned consistently with the contiguous 20 acres of C-2 where the majority of the dealership will be located along Shiloh Drive.

“Despite City Plan 2040, the practical considerations of the actual uses, the economic impact on the city, and the suitability of the use for this property should drive the decision,” she wrote.

» Read more about the request and the Planning Commission’s decision in our previous story