The modification would allow driveway access onto Glenforest Road, which is an entrance road to the Glenridge Forest subdivision.
Planning staff members made no recommendation, as there is related pending litigation.
Ed Ellis, a representative from Raleigh-based design firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, spoke on behalf of the modification.
“We found that the volumes [of vehicles] are fairly low on Glenforest. There are less than 30 per hour,” he said.
Ellis said the best option for the medical office building and the neighborhood is to provide right-turn only access from the building onto Glenforest Road, with a raised curb in the middle of the road that will prevent turning left into the neighborhood as well as turning left into the complex. Patients will still have to turn into the complex from Glen-ridge.
Ellis said this would be a safety improvement, as making a left turn onto busy Glenridge is difficult throughout the day.
Nancy Leathers, consultant to the Glenridge Forest, spoke in favor of denying the request and asked the council to provide consistent protection of neighborhoods by denying the request.
A lawsuit regarding another issue was filed against the city by Glenridge Partners LLC at almost the same time the zoning modification request was filed, according to DeJulio.
“[Glenridge Partners] have tried to blackmail us,” he said. “I think this is the first time a zoning application and lawsuit have been put in at the same time.”
District 3 Councilman Chip Collins originally made a motion to deny the request, with District 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny seconding the motion.
District 4 Councilman Gabriel Sterling later made a substitute motion to defer the modification request until the next council meeting, Jan. 15.
District 2 Councilwoman Dianne Fries seconded Sterling’s motion. With Sterling, Fries and District 1 Council-man John Paulson voting for the motion to defer, McEnerny, Collins and District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio voted against the deferral.
With the vote knotted at 3-3, Mayor Eva Galambos was required to break the tie and voted for the deferral.
“I think you’ve got an opportunity to negotiate here,” said Galambos pointedly to residents at the meeting after referencing the fact that speed coning [speed bumps] was minimal on the road, as well as landscaping around the medical office building. “I’m voting with the deferral in hopes you folks get with the developers and figure out a compromise.”