Confrontations highlighted planning
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jan 03, 2013 | 937 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Confrontations between government and the public occurred more often with planning commissions than with any other panel.

Builders shifted from single family to multifamily dwellings. The problem of where to build them without negatively affecting established neighborhoods confronted city and county elected and appointed officials in 2012.

Change clashed with the status quo March 6 with two rezoning requests on the Bradley County Regional Planning Commission agenda, in scenarios that pitted a neighborhood against development.

County planning commissioners approved a request from John Pesterfield to rezone property at 1022 Bell Road S.E., and a request from Melba Davis to rezone property at 1250 King St. S.E.

Pesterfield requested the rezoning of a parcel located on the corner of Bell Road and Dalton Pike from Forestry/Agriculture/Residential (FAR) to Rural Commercial (C-1) for retail purposes.

The request was approved by a 6-0 vote. Pesterfield did not specify a retail business, except to say there were no retail services in the community outside of Walmart.

The request by Melba Davis to rezone property located across from Charter Communications from FAR to C-1 was opposed by her cousins.

Davis said her only intention is to rezone it so she can sell it and move to another state to be near her children. Her cousins, who left the meeting before it ended, spoke on behalf of their mother, Davis’ aunt, who resides on property on the back portion of Davis’ land. They cited alleged problems of an illegal nature at a nearby motel, and safety concerns due to the high volume of fast-moving traffic on King Street. They also expressed a desire to let their mother live out the rest of her life without the pressures of commercial development.

Davis said her father bought both properties in 1953, but sold a portion to family and kept the rest.

“It’s my property. I want to rezone it so I can sell it,” Davis said. The request was approved by a vote of 5-1.

Deed restrictions resulted in removing one item from the April 10 agenda of Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission and deed restrictions almost prevented a second item from being approved during the special meeting.

A request by Milan Patel to rezone property at the corner of Freewill Road and Candies Lane from Single Family Residential (R1) to Commercial Highway (CH) was pulled from consideration.

Senior Planner Paul Corder said Patel requested the item pulled from the agenda. From researching the deed, he said it appeared restrictions could be an obstacle to rezoning the property.In a reversal of sorts, a request by Grissom Funeral Homes to rezone properties at 105 and 107 30th St., and 3005 Julian Drive from Low Density Single and Multi-family Dwelling (R2) to CH was unanimously approved.

Mark Grissom said he requested the change mainly to enlarge the parking lot for the funeral home at 3010 North Ocoee.

About 40 neighbors from Sullivan Estates subdivision circulated a petition opposing the change based on deed restrictions that limit the property to residential use only.

However, after researching titles, Corder said Grissom’s property is located in Lee Heights subdivision.

Grissom ran into more opposition May 14 when the question came before the Cleveland City Council. The public hearing was continued until May 29 when Council members were vote on the first reading. The second and final vote would then have been held June 18.

Grissom opted to withdraw the request.

Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission approved a site plan revision to Mouse Creek Crossing on May 24 for a grocery store and improvements to Valley Head Road.

The revised plan shows a 53,785-square-foot building west of existing townhomes between Valley Head Road, and the rear of Buffalo Wild Wings and other shops fronting Paul Huff Parkway.

The revision also called for 10,000 square feet of additional retail space and more than 320 parking spaces.

A new entrance to the development is located on Valley Head Road, perpendicular to Forestview Drive N.E.

The westbound lane of Valley Head Road will be widened between the entrance and Peerless Road. A sidewalk and right turn lane onto Peerless Road will be added.

The original plan showed the store on the west end of the development near Peerless Road. The store was later identified as a Publix Super Market.

Bradley County Planning commissioners approved a rezoning request May 1 over the objections of about 100 people, including two county commissioners, who crowded into the Bradley County Courthouse.

County Commissioners Terry Caywood and Ed Elkins, who both represent the 1st District, asked the planning board members to delay the vote.

“I’ve listened tonight to some of the opposition and I think what stuck with me the most is the lack of infrastructure, the environmental issues and traffic issues,” Elkins said. “I think we could do well if we at least got some additional information before you make a decision.”

Elkins said he would also like to know more about the intended use because that could have a strong bearing on the amount of opposition.

The county planning commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the request from Judith Allen to rezone 223 acres bordering Georgetown Road and Francisco Road N.W. from Forestry/Agriculture/Residential to General Industrial.

The motion to approve the request was made by Tom Crye and seconded by Bradley County Commissioner Mel Griffith. Voting in favor of the request were Crye, Griffith and Stacey Tucker. Voting against the request were Janie Bishop and Daryl Sneed.

Commissioners Lisa Webb, Lindsay Hathcock and Greg Calfee were absent.

Planning Commission Chair Tony Young abstained because he and Allen are employed by Crye-Leike Real Estate Services. The relationship raised some questions among county commissioners before the matter was dropped.

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson administered the oath of office to his brother Aug. 28 as he became the newest member of the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission.

Andrew Johnson, the vice mayor’s younger brother, was appointed to a one-year term to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Dr. Michael Laney, who recently moved to San Antonio.

Veteran planning commissioner Larry Presswood was also sworn in to finish his three-year term. Presswood was reinstated to the commission after at least three excused absences. The remainder of his three-year term expires in 2013.

At-Large City Councilman George Poe attended his first meeting Nov. 27 as a voting member while Clarke Taylor sat on the dais as an observer.

Poe replaced 4th District Councilman David May, who resigned after about 16 years on the panel. Taylor, son of Cleveland Bank Chairman and CEO Scott Taylor, replaced Stan Lawson, who resigned to pay more attention to business interests.

The two newest members on the Bradley County Regional Planning Commission were appointed to broaden representation in two communities feeling growth pressures. Joanna Duncan lives in McDonald and Mike Graves’ home is in Georgetown.

The two took their seats in early August to replace Stacey Tucker and Dr. Lindsay Hathcock.

Duncan has been active in long-range strategic and comprehensive planning during the past two years to help preserve the rural lifestyle of an area where residents feel encroached upon by Hamilton County to the south and Cleveland from the north. The immediate concern is the Spring Branch Industrial Park and development surrounding Exit 20 on Interstate 75.

Graves is a real estate broker and auctioneer with Crye-Leike Real Estate Services in Athens. He was one of the principal speakers in May against rezoning 223 acres bordering Georgetown Road and Francisco Road N.W. from Forestry/Agriculture/Residential to General Industrial.

Both Graves and Duncan would like to see future development reflect the current landscape and its residents. Neither is against anything in particular, but at the same time, they don’t want to see someone try to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, or conversely ruin a silk purse.

Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission members voted against the wishes of residents who said “enough is enough” to a multifamily development in their neighborhood.

Neighbors near 250 Ramsey St. N.E. filled the Cleveland City Council meeting room Sept. 25 to express opposition to a request to rezone property from R-1 (Single-Family Residential) to R-3 (multifamily Residential). The property is approximately 200-by-200 square feet.

The nine commissioners split 5-4 to recommend approval after about two hours of discussion and public comments from neighbors who complained of inadequate sewage service, speeding cars on narrow streets, crime, drugs and gang activity in other multifamily complexes.

Ramsey Street intersects Pryor Road about two blocks from Northcrest apartments, a frequent topic of discussion at City Council meetings.

Commissioner Maryl Elliott sided with neighbors and motioned to deny the request. Commissioner Andrew Johnson seconded the motion, which failed 4-5. A second motion placed on the floor by Tricia Haws, and seconded by Yvonne Cannon, passed 5-4.

Commissioners Larry Presswood, Stan Lawson, Tim Henderson, Haws and Cannon voted in favor of the request. Commissioner Dee Burris and City Councilman David May, Elliott and Johnson voted against the request.

Senior Planner Paul Corder recommended approval of rezoning the property because it is adjacent to a long line of R-3 properties to the west and CH (Commercial Highway) properties to the east. According to the staff report, R-3 is a more appropriate zoning district next to CH than is R-1.

Dustin Hawkins, of D&S Custom Homes, requested the rezoning change in order to build 14 luxury townhomes. Seven of the units would face Sharon Drive N.E. and seven would face Ramsey Street.

The 1,350-square-foot units would have amenities such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood flooring inside and a craftsman-style look on the outside similar to Spring Creek. Each unit would have an individual driveway. The townhomes would be priced at about $130,000 each.

“I want to stress these are owner occupied. They are not rental property,” Hawkins said. “The people will own the property, the dirt, everything. The only difference between this and a single-family home is these are connected together.

“Obviously, I want to do this. I think this is the best thing for the community. This is in demand. People love it. It’s low-maintenance, that sort of thing,” Hawkins continued.

“Plan B is, I would be forced to build eight small rental houses. I don’t want to do that. That’s not what I’m pushing for, but I bought the property and I’ve got to do something with it,” he said.

Neighbors’ objections did not stop the Cleveland City Council on Oct, 23 from rezoning the property at 250 Ramsey St.

“I hate to use this word, but I feel like our neighborhood has literally been raped,” Jeanne Goins said to the Cleveland City Council as she summed up her feelings about the changing neighborhood where she has lived for 38 years.

Goins expressed her sentiments during a public hearing at which she spoke in opposition to a zoning change request from Single-family Residential (R-1) to Multifamily Residential (R-3) by Hawkins.

“Every time there is a vacant lot or a house gets torn down, everybody wants to come in and put up apartments and I didn’t buy my house to live around 335 apartments,” Goins said.

She and 106 other residents who live near 250 Ramsey St. N.E., signed a petition opposing rezoning the property.

Council members later voted 4-2-1 to approve the request on the first reading.

Councilman Dale Hughes made the motion seconded by Councilman Richard Banks. Councilmen Bill Estes, Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, Hughes and Banks voted in favor of the request. Councilmen George Poe and David May voted no. Charlie McKenzie passed because of family ties to one of the residents opposed to the request.