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DEVELOPER SEEKING ZONING CONSISTENCY\ HIGH POINT HAS BEEN TRYING NOT TO CLOG THE WENDOVER THOROUGHFARE WITH BUSINESSES, BUT ONE LANDOWNER SAYS THE CITY ISN'T FOLLOWING ITS OWN GUIDELINES.
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DEVELOPER SEEKING ZONING CONSISTENCY\ HIGH POINT HAS BEEN TRYING NOT TO CLOG THE WENDOVER THOROUGHFARE WITH BUSINESSES, BUT ONE LANDOWNER SAYS THE CITY ISN'T FOLLOWING ITS OWN GUIDELINES.

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High Point is feeling growing pains again in the north part of town.

This time, though, the issue isn't too much growth too quickly. It's whether the city is wrongly limiting growth on one of its busiest roads.A Guilford County man claims High Point is too picky when restricting development along busy West Wendover Avenue, even denying projects that appear to fit in the city's publicly published grand-growth plan.

The landowner, John Martin, and his lawyer met with city leaders on Tuesday.

How the City Council votes Sept. 28 on Martin's rezoning request could set a precedent for how the prime properties on Wendover are built up in the near future.

Martin's attorney, Tom Terrell, does not believe the issue has reached a point where developers might get sick of dealing with the city's restrictions and build elsewhere. But he said developers need to know what they are allowed to build where, and they need the city to stick to those guidelines.

``There are people like Mr. Martin all over High Point, who, in a year's time will be investing millions all over our city,' Terrell said. ``All we're asking is consistency.'

Martin and Wesley Johnson own 4 acres on West Wendover Avenue, between Hickory Grove Road and Piedmont Parkway.

The land currently is outside High Point. The men want the city to annex the property so it can be hooked up to city water. They then want it rezoned from agricultural to high-intensity office use, so they can sell it.

According to High Point's Land Use Plan - a document plotting how properties should be developed - that section of West Wendover Avenue is targeted for offices. A more detailed plan for just the Wendover corridor also designates that corner for offices. So the request by Martin and Johnson appears to meet the city's future vision of the neighborhood.

But High Point's Planning Department has recommended that the City Council deny the rezoning request.

Based on that report, the Planning and Zoning Commission in a 4-3 vote also recommended Aug. 25 that the council deny the rezoning request.

Planning Director Lee Burnette said at Tuesday's meeting that rezoning the property as high-intensity office space, instead of limited or moderate-intensity office, also would permit it to be used for businesses like a drugstore, tobacco store, bookstore or restaurant.

And that, Burnette said, goes against the city's vision for Wendover. He said the goal is to group retail businesses together at Greensboro's far end of the road near Interstate 40, and at High Point's far end near Eastchester Drive.

In between, he said, should be mostly homes so the traffic keeps moving and isn't gummed up by shoppers.

The road should be ``a commuter corridor between Greensboro and High Point ... a way for residents to get in and out of High Point,' Burnette said.

High-intensity office zoning allows businesses near an office park for the employees' convenience, he said. But there is no office park near Hickory Grove Road and West Wendover Avenue, so any businesses would be used by commuters and residents, possibly causing traffic problems, Burnette said.

But Terrell told the council that isn't fair. He said office space is office space, and the city shouldn't be allowed to summarily deny requests that meet the guidelines it has set and published.

City Attorney Fred Baggett told the City Council that the development guidelines are open to interpretation.

He encouraged members to decide requests case-by-case.

But two council members said the rules must be more clear.

``I think this city's got an overall development plan, and for some reason, we don't follow it,' council member Chris Whitley said.

Council member Jim Stanley said, ``There should be rules that I can pick up, and I can determine from that exactly what I can do and what I can't do.'

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