Ward IV Albany City Commissioner Chad Warbington looking at 'downzoning' neighborhood

Chad Warbington

ALBANY Albany City Commissioner Chad Warbington is seeking to tap the brakes on development to help maintain the current residential density of a neighborhood in his Ward IV through a zoning change.

The requested rezoning would impact about 75 to 100 properties located west of South Slappey Boulevard and stretching between Dawson Road to Gillionville Road.

“The area (around) Merry Acres has been zoned C-R (community residential) since the ’70s,” Warbington said during a telephone interview. “I think (during) the last five years it has become more of a problem because there have been commercial/residential developments that have affected that area.”

In recent years there have been requests to site substance abuse rehabilitation facilities and personal care homes in the area, which would alter the makeup of the neighborhood, the Albany commissioner said.

Warbington is seeking to change the zoning designation in the area to R-2, which would permit new housing that includes single-family and duplexes, but not high-density apartment buildings.

The idea is to protect the residential area from development that could alter the neighborhood.

“What my goal was was to get a zoning that reflects the current atmosphere of the neighborhood,” Warbington said. “The citizens have expressed frustration that they’re being encroached upon. This was a way to provide them some relief.

“I just believe the city, (that) we should be more proactive for our neighborhoods, proactive for keeping some of our neighborhoods the way they are.”

The Albany City Commission approved referring the request to the Albany-Dougherty Planning Commission during a Tuesday meeting.

The zoning would not prevent a developer from building a large multistory apartment complex but would make it more difficult to do so, Warbington said.

“People could still apply for those items,” he said. “It would be a little harder for them to get that zoning. Right now it’s easier for commercial encroachment to happen.”

The city previously has rezoned neighborhoods, said City Attorney Nathan Davis, who recalled one such move about nine years ago on Gordon Avenue.

“Downzoning means making the property have more restrictions than it had before, in plain speech,” Davis said. “The city happens to be the applicant, and pursuant to state law, the Albany-Dougherty Planning Commission will be the first step.”

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