Residents seek mixed-use alternative for rezoning block

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By Sharon Graves

The residents of one particular block were present at another public hearing as the planning and zoning commission tries to determine the correct zoning of the area.

The block bounded by Clay Street to the north, Fourth Street to the east, Third Street to the west and Polk Street to the south has brought contention to the planning and zoning commission and city council on more than one occasion.

 The planning and zoning commission notified residents of that block that a zoning change from Heavy Industrial [I-2] to Light Industrial [I-1] was being considered.  Residential properties make up most of the block in addition to Lan Inc. and Gene and Sons Garage. Lloyd Jackson also owns a commercial piece of property, but it is undeveloped at present.  

With the current zoning of I-2 none of the property owners can enlarge the footprint of their properties meaning no one can add on a garage or an addition of any sort without getting a variance from the board of adjustments.

The planning and zoning agenda stated one of the reasons for considering the change was to protect the area from future development for cell towers and other possible permitted uses within the I-2 designation.

Resident Jeff Moore made a presentation to the commission during the public hearing stating if the zoning were to be changed to I-1 all the properties would still be non-conforming and still unable to be altered.

Moore said he is in agreement that the block needs to be rezoned, but did not agree with the change to I-1. Moore supported the October, 2008 effort to change the zoning to residential ,which was met with much opposition from Gene Vannarsdall, saying it would hurt the resale value of his business.

Moore referred to the city’s comprehensive plan to bolster his argument.  The plan and the land use maps show the current usages in that block are residential, commercial and agricultural-open and those future uses are not expected to change.

The primary usage of the property in the one-block area is residential and Moore suggested the commission consider a mixed-use zoning that incorporated both residential and commercial uses.

The commission has been considering mixed-use zoning for nearly two years, but so far no ordinance has been written or approved as city attorney Nick Marsh pointed out to the group.

Businessman Gene Vannarsdall said that he had no problem with mixed-use zoning as long as it doesn’t mess with his business.  

Louise Lyons also agreed with Moore saying, “we should keep it like it is or make it better.”

Commissioner Barry Brown said that Moore’s proposal was well thought out and the commission would need to consider it.

“We are all in agreement with you if you can develop a mixed-use plan,” resident Jim Richey said.

Following the public hearing the regularly scheduled meeting of the commission had to be canceled due to the lack of a quorum, so no further action was taken concerning the zone change.