The Roswell City Council overturned a decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny a request to rezone an R-3 Residential District to C-2 Community Commercial District, at its regular business meeting Thursday evening.
The P&Z commission voted 3-2 to deny the request of applicant Bill Fenn, of Fenn Foods Inc. One of the commissioners recused himself due to a conflict of interest. Fenn’s appeal of the commission’s decision was sent to the council for action.
Fenn, who owns Farmers Country Market, requested to rezone 105 N. Atkinson Ave. to provide for commercial office space, given his operations in Roswell are increasing. He purchased the property, which is currently occupied by one of his employees, several years ago.
Chris Cortez, of Atkins Engineering Associates Inc, spoke in favor of the appeal. Cortez is the commissioner who recused himself from the original vote, as Atkins conducts work for Fenn Inc.
“We think the rezone is consistent with the master use plan adopted in 2005. We don’t think that the development would increase the noise substantially. … We don’t believe there will be any increase in traffic. … The lot will be brought up to commercial standards, paved, screen in place. … We think it doesn’t have a large impact on the surrounding environment and will actually be an improvement to the area,” Cortez said.
Legal counsel for Fenn and his entities, Clarke Coll, also spoke in favor of the appeal. “We should be pleased as a city to have Mr. Fenn’s business interest’s desire to stay in Roswell and his corporate office located in Roswell. He owns stores in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. His desire in this zone change … is to be able to expand his corporate offices so that he has more staff that he can hire for the operations,” Coll said.
David Gilfus, who lives to the south of the property, spoke in opposition of the rezone at the commission’s meeting and the council meeting. He presented pictures to the councilors of the trash surrounding the residence and its state of disrepair. “Mr. Fenn and his compadres have not issued one piece of paper of what they plan on doing … Are they going to make it an office building? Are they going to tear it down? … How many people are going to be there? He has nothing. … You are opening up a can of worms. This is going to get very ugly,” he said.
Additionally, Gilfus aired his concerns of increased noise, traffic, the impact on surrounding property values and the beautification and upkeep of the property.
Several counselors assured Gilfus that his concerns would presumably be solved by the commercial standards and requirements that Fenn would be obliged to abide by as a result of this zone change.
The council entered into a closed session for deliberation, which is allowed under the Open Meetings Act when handling adjuciary matters such as an appeal, prior to making its final decision. The council voted 9-0 in favor of the appeal. Councilor Savino Sanchez was absent from the meeting.
In other business, the council approved the transfer of ownership of a liquor license to Grand Avenue LLC. No one spoke in favor or in opposition of the request. Additionally, the council approved $800 in Lodger’s Tax funding for the 31st annual Pecos Valley Potters’ Guild Art Show.