Lots of interesting information came out of last night’s LHAIA meeting, but the most interesting had to be the follow-up to a rezoning presentation.

Stuart Jones of American Brownfields Corp. made a presentation about the northwest corner of Shoreview and Ferndale. He recently finished an environmental clean-up of the site, and is asking the city to change the land’s zoning designation from community retail to mixed use zoning. Jones explained that the site’s slope and resulting views of White Rock Lake "cry out for a special use. The current use is old, it’s tired, and it will never work as retail." He stated that it needs to be high-end, dense residential, and he thinks the site is going to come back as high-end townhomes and mid-rise condos overlooking the lake. Jones also told the audience that in Lake Highlands, there is "not enough residential, and not enough residential diversity." I wondered if they wondered if maybe he had them confused with another neighborhood.

Jones seemed to receive affirming responses when he met with the L Streets Neighborhood Association and others he couldn’t remember well enough to name at the meeting. He showed drawings and photos of other sites his company has cleaned up, like 2306 Motor Street, which he afterward sold and on which FirstWorthing built the Cityville Southwest Medical District apartment complex.

I don’t know whether or not Jones expected opposition at last night’s meeting, but that’s pretty much what he got during the Q&A.

Former city plan commissioner and Lake Highlands resident Peggy Hill confronted him about the plans he had laid out, and asked if he would be the one building on the site or simply flipping it and letting someone else build like he had done with the other sites he had shown at the meeting. Jones didn’t answer her question, instead offering some sort of response about believing his company would accommodate the wants and needs of the community. Hill then vehemently pointed out that if the site’s designation changes to mixed use, which includes the option of multi-family, the city "cannot zone for rent or for sale, and cannot zone for minimum square feet." (And with the condo climate Jeff described, apartments might sound like a much better option to a developer.)

Others asked Jones about things like parking congestion, blocked views for neighbors living north of the proposed development, and further emphasized opposition to another apartment complex. Jones turned to face each question-asker, and as he realized they wanted to voice their objection instead of get more information, he turned around and sat down, facing away from the fuming. LHAIA president Steve Wakefield wrapped up the comments and told the audience that they would be available for further questions after the meeting, but as soon as Wakefield moved on to the next item on the agenda, Jones stood up and walked out.

The zoning request is scheduled to go before City Council on Feb. 27.