Robins residents air concerns about possible zoning change, development in city square

Planning and Zoning Commission to meet Wednesday to discuss mixed-use development proposal

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ROBINS — Residents in Robins have concerns about a potential mixed-use development near their homes, and they said they plan to ask the city Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday not to approve a zoning change for a portion of the Robins City Square.

Developer Geoff Franzenburg, of Compass Commercial Services Inc., shared plans to develop part of Robins City Square as a five-building mixed-use space at the June 14 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, according to meeting minutes. Compass Commercial would construct three buildings to house 34 three-story townhomes and another three-story, 12,000-square-foot building with commercial space on the first floor and residential space on the second and third levels. Franzenburg said the initial plan also included another two-story building for mixed use of office suites, according to meeting minutes.

The development would be built on 5.4 acres of land on lots 3 and 4 in Robins City Square.

Franzenburg did not answer The Gazette’s requests for comment.

Robins City Square is currently zoned as a C-1 Central Business District, for which buildings cannot exceed two-and-a-half stories, according to Robins city code. In order for a mixed-use space to be developed, lots 3 and 4 of the square would need to be rezoned as a Planned Unit Development District.

Residents shared their concerns with the commission during the public hearing at the June 14 meeting, and they said they plan to do the same during Wednesday’s meeting when the developer’s proposal will be discussed. The meeting takes place at 5:30 p.m. at Robins City Hall, 265 S. Second St.

The development would abut homes along Oak Street in Robins, and residents have begun a petition against rezoning they say has garnered about 900 signatures. They also developed a website, SaveRSquare.org, to refute possible rezoning.

John Gaffney, who lives on Landau Street in Robins, said Franzenburg has held meetings with area residents to discuss concerns and has even tweaked the proposal.

Though Gaffney said during a meeting of Robins residents last week that he has concerns with the proposed development plans, he’s targeting his message for the Planning and Zoning Commission. The message: follow the original plan for the city square.

Gaffney said residents involved with Save R Square don’t have an issue with the commercial zoning of the square now.

“There’s nothing wrong with the builder. The issue is where they’re building and what they’re building,” Gaffney said. “The comprehensive plan for the city laid that division out a long time ago. The area’s intended to provide services and goods for the people of Robins. You put an apartment complex in there, and there’s nowhere (for future businesses) to go.”

Additionally, Mike and Kris Dupont, who live on Oak Street, said they feel three-story buildings are just too high for the small city full of one- and two-story homes.

“When they proposed them the first time, they were butting up into our lots, looking into our lives,” Kris said. “It’s not family friendly.”

And though Franzenburg has updated the proposal following meetings with residents, Judy Rohrssen, who lives on Oak Street, said she still is concerned about having a dense residential area in the middle of the city square.

Rohrssen said the number of town house units were decreased in the updated proposal, but the square footage of one of the mixed-use buildings was increased to about 15,000 square feet.

“What he’s cut out are the things we’re not as opposed to,” Rohrssen said.

Cathy Welton, a resident of Maple Street and former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said she foresees increased residential space making the roads near the square more congested. “It’ll be a congested area of the city unlike any other area,” she said.

Welton also said she has doubts there will be enough businesses interested in filling a mixed-use space. “It’s going to have to be a destination business, something that drives people to come to them, like the bank and the eye care. It’s going to have to be where the customer is seeking the business out, not that the customer is on a busy intersection.”

Robins Zoning Administrator Dean Helander did not respond to requests for comment.

l Comments: (319) 368-8516; makayla.tendall@thegazette.com

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