Last month the commissioners held a public hearing regarding Howard Lichtenberger’s request to rezone a one-acre lot at the southwest corner of Old Westfield Road and Matthews Road for the purpose of establishing a sports bar.
After several comments from community members both opposed to and in favor of the bar, the commissioners tabled the issue. Kim Bates, county planning director, brought the item back before the commissioners last night.
Last month Bates reported that the planning board recommended that the rezoning request be approved as long as the lot could not be used for arcades, private recreation clubs, drinking establishments, billiard or pool halls, indoor recreation, or night clubs or places of entertainment. This would prevent Lichtenberger from using the property for his proposed purpose.
“At this point, that recommendation stands,” Bates said last night.
He said that on Monday, Lichtenberger called to request to withdraw his rezoning application. Bates informed him that if he withdrew the request he couldn’t reapply for rezoning until a year after his first request, in November. Lichtenberger decided then to ask the commissioners to let the issue remain on the table until he could think about how to proceed.
The commissioners honored that request, saying they would reconsider the issue in a month.
County Manager Dennis Thompson said Fred Johnson, a Mount Airy attorney who spoke against the rezoning at last month’s public hearing, recently sent a letter to the county requesting to speak again on the issue. Thompson also had more petitions with him at the meeting. Last month, Johnson presented the board with a petition signed by 50 people near the lot who did not want a sports bar located there.
Although the commissioners are not required to hold another public hearing regarding the topic, they said last night that they probably will hold another one when the issue is addressed again.
The property on Old Westfield Road is zoned rural agricultural, but Lichtenberger wants it changed to highway business conditional so he can change the light industrial facility now located there. The existing 3,000-square-foot structure is located a quarter-mile north of the Pilot Mountain Middle School under construction. This concerns some county residents.
Lichtenberger assured people last month that the building would not be turned into a “rowdy beer joint” and that it was not in sight of the school. He called his proposed business an “upscale sports bar.”
Concerned resident Lee Russell said at the public hearing, “I know you have strict rules, but there’s bad apples in every bunch.”
Commissioner Paul Johnson said that night, “Everyone on the petition are good upstanding citizens as well as Lichtenberger ... It’s a tough decision for this board.”
The commissioners will face this tough decision again next month.
Contact Meghann Evans at email@example.com or 719-1952.