SORRENTO — Listening to the concerns of constituents about unwanted residential development, the Town Council on Tuesday denied a request by a local property owner to change the zoning of a parcel of land from a C-2 commercial retail classification to R-3 single- and multifamily residential.
Jeff Melancon, on behalf of SLC Inc., SLC LLC and Mel Grave Inc., sought the zoning change to develop five vacant acres of property located off Airline Highway in front of the Cypress Lakes subdivision.
But Cypress Lakes residents who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting were worried an R-3 classification would allow Melancon to construct not only single-family residences but multifamily residences including apartment buildings and duplexes.
That fear won’t come to pass anytime soon as the Town Council unanimously voted to deny the zoning change.
“We got what we wanted,” Sorrento resident Dawn Elrod said after the meeting.
Melancon did not attend Tuesday’s meeting although he had asked the Town Council two weeks ago to table the vote until a later date so he could put together a plan to show what he and his associates wished to do with the property.
Mayor Mike Lambert said after the meeting Tuesday that he did meet with Melancon but he “was very vague in what he wanted.”
Melancon’s unclear construction plans may have doomed his zoning change request.
Several residents and at least one council member said Melancon told them he did not plan to build duplexes on the property and that he sought the R-3 designation to build bigger lots than an R-1 single-family residential classification would permit.
But, according to a town petition for the zoning amendment, Melancon listed “build duplexes” as a reason for the zoning change request.
Lambert also said Melancon was given the option of changing his zoning request to an R-1 single-family residential classification but declined.
A message left on the phone number provided by Melancon in his petition was not returned Tuesday night.
At two public meetings last month, residents said they were concerned a multifamily zoning classification on the property could lead to public housing and, as a result, reduce property values and increase crime.
They also expressed worry that residential development on the property would increase existing drainage problems in the Cypress Lakes subdivision.
These concerns were echoed Tuesday as residents urged council members to listen to the recommendation of the town’s planning and zoning committee, whose members voted last month to deny Melancon’s zoning change request.
Cypress Lakes resident Amanda Stanton said she lives next to a small slough that turns into a swamp when it rains. If multifamily homes were to be built, federal flood guidelines would require the homes be built on higher ground and would send all rainwater cascading into the Cypress Lakes neighborhood.
“We’re begging you,” Stanton said. “Please don’t let them do this. We’ll end up with apartments.”