By Caroline Green and McKenzie Maddox
Holly Avenue Neighborhood is working with city officials on a proposal to rezone a portion of the neighborhood for residential use in a move that residents say will protect their property values. The briefing on potential rezoning for the residential core will be held by the City-Council Planning Board today at 4:30 p.m.
Currently, the Holly Avenue Neighborhood is zoned as a Limited Office District (LO), which means that it is designed to accommodate medical, professional, administrative and government offices, in addition to residential buildings.
City Councilman of the Northwest Ward, Jeff MacIntosh, said the plan is to rezone part of the area to a Residential Single Family Quadraplex District (RSQ). He has been working closely with homeowners and the Holly Avenue Neighborhood Homeowner Association.
“We want to establish a core residential area in the Holly Avenue Neighborhood,” MacIntosh said. “We will be able to protect the homeowner’s property with a more restrictive zoning.”
By changing part of the neighborhood from a LO to an RSQ, any new uses of the buildings in the target area will only be allowed to have four units –limiting the area to detached dwellings, duplexes, triplexes, and quadraplexes. This new zoning will only permit home offices and no longer authorize new businesses or offices.
Current standing businesses and established multi-unit resident apartment buildings will be grandfathered into the new contract and allowed to remain as long as they continue to exist. However, if they discontinue, even for just a year, they will not be able to move back into the district.
Once the boundaries of the zone are decided, the request will move up a ladder of approvals from the community development committee, to a public hearing and finally to the full City Council. MacIntosh said the official final plans are scheduled to be voted on by the full City Council by January 2016.
Sharee Fowler, the president of the Holly Avenue Neighborhood Association, said the changes in the zoning will protect the value of homes in the residential community, but also still be fair to existing businesses.
“We want to protect the integrity of the neighborhood while being sensitive to business owners,” Fowler said.
The neighborhood is home to a number of businesses including many law offices and the Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County. A proposed crematorium business that is scheduled to open on Spruce Street between November and December has raised concerns for many neighbors in the area.
John Roland, the owner of the crematorium, said he had not heard about the plans to rezone the Holly Avenue Neighborhood.
“I chose this property because I have known about it since I was five years old,” Roland said. “I’ve been in the funeral business for 11 years and was looking to open up a place of my own and knew this property was on the market. My wife and I prayed about it for over a year and we felt that God led us to this place and opened the doors for us here.”
Holly Avenue Neighborhood Homeowner, Laurin Stroud, owns the restored orange home with white trim that backs up to the crematorium. She said she is worried and frustrated knowing that it will soon be opened.
“The crematorium has had a psychological-emotional effect on me and I’m working really hard to accept that this will be in my backyard,” Stroud said. “This is my home and this was where I was planning on staying for retirement, but now those plans have changed.”
From her backyard, the smokestack of the crematorium is clearly visible.
“Our property values are going to take a nosedive,” Stroud said. “When you are selling your house you have to check item 26 whether or not your house is in an area where there is industrialization or smoke. Now we have to check that box. Who’s going to want to buy my house now?”