Wildwood to vote on Spanos property land use designation, Council approves motion to move forward with legislation
By: Sarah Wilson
The Wildwood City Council on March 11 approved a motion to create legislation that would consider the city’s Planning/Economic Development/Parks committee’s recommendation to designate the Spanos property in question as a mixed-use development.
The designation that the PEP committee and Planning and Zoning Commission adopted has workplace district on the front two-thirds of the property and neighborhood edge district designation on the rear of the property.
The Spanos property is one of the four properties subject to recommendation for the city’s Town Center Plan update. The site has generated significant discussion because of the property owner’s concerns about the change in land use designation.
Pete Spanos, owner of the property, said how important it is that his property be designated workplace.
“We paid for a piece of property; we knew we were buying workplace,” Spanos said. “And we believe we should be able to continue to retain that designation.”
The two properties have a limited zoning history since the city was incorporated in 1995.
It was originally marked by the illegal operation of several businesses on the site by a previous owner. The city in 1998 changed the property’s zoning district designation from the non-urban residence district to the planned commercial district to accommodate the pattern of development that had originated there since about 1983.
Spanos bought the property in 2005, and another rezoning process began shortly after. In this case, the zoning request was for a change from the existing planned commercial district to the amended planned commercial district to accommodate the removal of the converted residential structures into a 45,000 square foot indoor recreational facility. Spanos never went forward with the project, and with the withdrawal of the rezoning request in 2008, there was no further action.
The property’s designation under the Town Center Plan, at the time of its adoption in 1998, was workplace district and remained until the update process in 2010. During the update process, the Town Center Advisory Committee recommended that the entire property be designated as neighborhood edge district while the Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to split the property into two designations: workplace district and neighborhood edge. The Council could not agree on the appropriate designation, but its current ordinance has remained planned commercial district.
Councilmember Ron James (Ward 6) said “trying to sell a property with two designations on it doesn’t work.”
“No one wants to buy a piece of property with two designations on it,” James said. “A commercial builder doesn’t want to build residential. The residential builder doesn’t want to build commercial.”
He made a motion to accept the property’s designation from 1998, but the motion failed.
“I know when we first did the Town Center, we let the residents have the option,” Councilmember Jim Kranz (Ward 7) said.
He said that Spanos paid for commercial property, and “For some reason, we’re changing the rules.”
Councilmember Tammy Shea (Ward 3) indicated that a just because a property had commercial usage due to its noncompliance, “that does not make it commercial.”
The Council passed a motion, by a vote of 9-7, to designate the property mixed-use; however, a supermajority of the Council’s vote at an upcoming Council meeting is required to pass the legislation.