Springdale planners OK multifamily rezoning despite neighbors’ opposition

Springdale city administration building Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023.  (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
Springdale city administration building Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

SPRINGDALE -- Springdale planners Tuesday narrowly approved a proposal to rezone property in a single-family residential neighborhood for a townhouse development.

The Planning Commission voted 5-4 on a request from developer Philip Taldo to rezone a 1.5-acre parcel of land at 2202 S. 40th St. from agricultural to low-density, multifamily housing. The parcel is on the west side of 40th Street and north of Chapman Avenue. The rezoning will go to the City Council on April 23.

Commissioners Ray Cardiel, Mark Cloud, Chris Hussein, Jennifer Keith and Dale Tyler voted for the rezoning. Commissioners Howard Austin, Gary Compton, Brent Couch and Tresa Reynolds voted against.

The agricultural zoning allows for single-family residential use on lots no smaller than two acres, according to information from the city's Planning Department. The multifamily zoning allows a maximum of four dwelling units per residential structure and up to eight units per acre.

The tract is undeveloped. According to the city, the property to the north contains single family dwellings. The area to the east, south and west contain churches in an agricultural zoning. The city's adopted comprehensive land use plan indicates the area is suitable for low density residential use.

Taldo asked for the property to be rezoned last year, but that request was rejected by the Planning Commission in December. The proposal presented in December would have allowed 14, two-story townhouses on a single lot. The Planning Commission voted against that rezoning request with three votes in favor and five votes against.

Stephen Lisle represented Taldo at the commission meeting. He said the rezoning approved Tuesday is in keeping with the city's master plan. He also said there is no plan for the development, which will have to go through the city's large-scale development process. Lisle said the townhouses would only be "a relatively modest change" in density from the existing neighborhood.

Neighbors objected to the rezoning requested in December and filled the meeting room again at Tuesday's meeting.

Les Nelson, a resident of the area, said the neighbors would prefer a collection of smaller houses to the townhouse development, since individual houses would give people the opportunity for home ownership.

"Seven small houses would be great," Nelson said. "We could have a party."

Nelson appealed to the commission to act with a sense of fairness.

"I don't see how this is just. And no one has been able to explain to me how it is," he said.

Nora and Jim Hall live north of the property and called it "spot zoning" that would damage the character of the neighborhood and could lead to future multifamily development.

They noted the new request was fewer units than before, but added in an email to the Planning Department, "we feel this would still place a very dense project in a very small space."

"My husband and I own property at 4302 Clark Ave., which lies just north of the proposed rezoning, and we are very concerned about Mr. Taldo's rezoning request. Mr. Taldo's project has been turned down before as it is clearly 'spot zoning.' This project does not fit into the original design of the surrounding subdivisions for which we bought our home 30 years ago. Other than two churches, this section of South 40th Street is surrounded by single family homes. It is like fitting a square peg into a round hole.

"There are several homes sitting on 2 acre lots near this project proposal. We fear if this project is approved, it could set a precedent for other homeowners who might want to tear down their home on a 2-acre lot and build multifamily units as a personal investment that would affect their neighbors property values, like this project will affect our home investment. Mr. Taldo has invested in other developments in Springdale that have been beneficial to our town where multifamily units fit, but we feel strongly that this project does not fit!"

Polly Stevenson lives at 4003 Clark Ave. and also opposed the rezoning.

"Once again, we come before you to ask that you not approve the petition to rezone the property at the above address," Stevenson wrote. "We oppose the building of multifamily housing on this property site. For many reasons to me personally, it would affect the value of my home, take away privacy, could potentially affect my safety. I would not be as concerned if the property was left agricultural land or developed into single family homes. Please consider our concerns in making your decision."

Other residents of the area expressed similar concerns to the Planning Department, citing increasing traffic, concerns over having rental housing mixed in with properties where the residents own their homes, overcrowding at nearby schools and potential crime and safety issues.

City zoning

Some land inside the city of Springdale is zoned as A-1, Agricultural district. This district is designed to protect agricultural land until an orderly transition to urban development has been accomplished. It provides a usable district for certain uses which may be annexed to the city. This zone will encourage single family residential usage on large tracts. In addition, due to the low density of development, agricultural uses such as crop and livestock production are permitted.

Source: Springdale Planning Department


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