Hughes rezoning request on Ocoee withdrawn for now
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jan 23, 2013 | 1385 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland Municipal Planning commissioners avoided a somewhat contentious issue Tuesday evening when a zoning change request was withdrawn from the agenda. However, it could be an issue that returns again in February.

Businessman and Cleveland City Councilman Dale Hughes withdrew a rezoning request to change the property at 3635 Ocoee Street North from R1 (Single-family Residential) to CH (Commercial Highway).

The 4.8-acre piece of property lies east of First National Bank, on the southwest corner of Ocoee Street North and Ocoee Crossing.

Hughes withdrew the request, but he intends to return in February to rezone the property to PI (Professional Institution).

Ben Moore, who has been a major developer in Cleveland for many years, attorney Roger Jenne and Charlotte Thorogood, a member of the Cleveland Historic Preservation Commission, opposed the zoning change. Though he did not speak, Bradley County Commissioner Jeff Morelock attended the meeting along with other neighbors, including John Hogan.

Ben Berry, an engineering consultant with Miller-McCoy Inc., of Chattanooga, spoke on behalf of Hughes, who was present.

Berry said the PI designation better reflects the surrounding properties where First National Bank is located.

“There is a lot of CH along Keith Street, which is very appropriate. As you go along Ocoee Crossing, you transition from Chick-fil-A to Aubrey’s to the bank, office buildings and residential,” he said. “It really provides a nice transition between commercial and residential.”

Commissioner Maryl Elliott pointed out there are no mixed zoning uses on the west side of Ocoee Street North between Sunset and Ocoee Crossing.

Hughes said he intended to build 21 retirement homes in a gated community when he first bought the property in 2007.

“The economy tanked and I felt like it would not be wise to pursue that,” he said.

Since then, little interest from others has been shown in the property.

“I have had a little interest in someone using the house as a dental office or medical office,” he said. “But as far as people knocking on my door to buy that, I haven’t had that. I just felt like after five years, I would like to have it rezoned.”

Hogan expressed concern that if the property was zoned commercial, a precedent would be set.

Moore stated flatly, “This is residential property. I think doing anything other than residential will hurt the value of all that property down through there. I’m opposed to it. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. He knew it was residential when he bought it.”

Moore owns the old Sam Horner house on 7 acres adjacent to Hughes’ property. He said changing that piece of property would open other properties along Ocoee Street up for rezoning. Also, he said Cleveland is overstocked with medical office space.

Jenne said he was concerned about encroaching on residential property.

“If this property is rezoned, then Ben decides to sell his property, how could the commission then say anyone who bought his property could not have the same benefit to make it CH or PI,” he said. “I would like to see this commission and City Council get away from what I consider a mish-mash of zoning.”

Thorogood said the city should preserve residential zoning.

“I think if you ask people who move to Cleveland what attracted them, they are not going to say that lovely area out at Walmart. They’re going to say Ocoee Street, the pretty streets and the fact that everything isn’t neon,” she said

Under new business, planners denied a request for property at 432 Mason Road S.W. and 452 Mason Rd. S.W. Donald Widman and Dereck Duff requested rezoning the neighboring properties from RA (Residential Agricultural) to CH. The parcel at 432 Mason Rd. S.W. contains 3.52 acres and 452 Mason Rd. S.W. contains six acres.

Staff suggested not rezoning the two properties to CH at this time, but signal support for future commercial development. Other staff recommendations included: to refrain from rezoning until a ROW connection from Mason Road to the LIC is dedicated; to require a landscaped buffer along Mason Road for any development other than residential; do not allow driveway connections onto Mason Road for anything other than residential development; and refrain from allowing the connection from Mason Road to the new road adequate improvement exists along Mason Road to support increased traffic.

The property along Mason Road is accessed by going outside the city limits along Johnston School Road, then by turning onto Mason Road. The property along Mason Road is agricultural and consists of homes on large lots along the north side of Mason Road near the west end where the road stops.

The ROW for the new interchange on APD 40 will extend westward to connect with the new Local Interstate Connector South. The LIC, recently named Cherokee Gateway South, will connect the bypass to the future Spring Branch Industrial Park via Stone Lake Road.

Future development with vehicular access from Mason Road to the LIC to the north of the two properties would change the character of the Mason Road area.

The Bradley Cleveland Charleston Comprehensive Plan currently under development envisions high-density regional mixed-use development on the north side of Mason Road with medium density single-family residential development to the south of Mason Road. If this is the vision, then rezoning, perhaps with zoning classifications that do not yet exist, will need to take place along Mason Road. It is reasonable that properties with direct access to the new road should be able to benefit from more intensive development than is possible under RA zoning.

Allowing the connection of Mason Road to the new road is something that should occur as a conscious policy decision, perhaps through a planned ROW extension, if it is to occur, not by default through development with private driveways.

Mason Road separates the two properties from other residential land to the south. Current codes would not provide for a buffer from high-density mixed-use development north of Mason Road.

Planning commissioners unanimously approved a request by city staff to correct a zoning map error by rezoning property abutting Morningside Drive N.E. and Pryor Road N.E. near Gale Drive from R1 to R3 (Multi-family). Most of the property was rezoned to R3 in 2003, but it was incorrectly drawn on the zoning map. The property contains approximately 5 acres more or less.

Planning commissioners unanimously approved three items on the consent agenda:

- Request by Todd Duggan for preliminary plat and site plan of a four-lot townhome development in Stonebriar subdivision;

-Two consent agenda items were requests by Mitchell Kinder for preliminary plat approval and final plat approval for Mouse Creek Village, a six-lot cluster subdivision development of approximately .74 acres at 5761 Mouse Creek Road.