City planners deny triplex construction
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG, Banner Staff Writer
Feb 27, 2013 | 1118 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Bradley County resident who wants to build triplexes on two pieces of property clashed with several concerned residents who live nearby during Tuesday’s Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission meeting.

In the monthly session, planning commissioners also voted to close a section of road in downtown Cleveland, make room for some possible exceptions to existing zoning regulations and approve the rezoning of a piece of land for large-scale industrial use.

Danny Mundy, who owns two different lots on Stephens Road N.E. in the Stephens Place subdivision, said his family purchased the properties in 1992 with the intention of building the three-apartment units on each lot. However, rezoning that took place in 1998 left the properties zoned for single-family houses.

“I bought the property for building triplexes,” Mundy said. “I can’t afford to just let them stand there and let the trees grow.”

Several neighbors of his lots showed up to protest the possibility of the land being rezoned for apartments instead of single-family houses. Their concerns ranged from property values being affected by new apartments obstructing scenic views, to concerns about traffic volume.

Further complicating the discussion, members of both sides of the argument pointed out that Mundy’s two lots currently have multi-family dwellings on the two lots between them. All seemed to express confusion over what seemed to be a violation of the 1998 rezoning, including City Planner Corey Divel who said that the commission may eventually need to rezone all of the properties on that street — not just those Mundy owns.

Mundy feels justified adding more similar properties. Opponents said that the 1998 rezoning needed to be enforced like it had not been before.

“With the exception of what was grandfathered in, that duplex should have never been built,” said Jeff Cocks, a resident of Clairmont Drive whose home overlooks one of Mundy’s lots.

Rodney Hodges, another neighbor, said he had already had bad experiences with neighbors who live in apartments near his property. He said he has heard people yelling and arguing and squealing their tires as they drove away in their cars at night.

One neighbor, Cathy Phillips, said she had just spent a lot of money landscaping her yard and that she would not have done so if she had known apartments could be built nearby. Other than his explanation that he wanted to build a triplex on each lot, Mundy did not offer any potential architecture or landscape designs for the properties.

Still others expressed concerns over the road not being able to handle the added traffic apartments could bring, Mundy’s lots flooding heavily when it rains and trash littering the areas around existing apartment units.

“I think everyone feels for Mr. Mundy,” Commissioner Maryl Elliot said, adding that the commission’s decision should reflect what was best for the majority.

The commission unanimously voted to deny both of Mundy’s requests to rezone both of his properties from the Single Family Residential Dwelling District (R1) category to Low Density Single and Multi-Family Dwelling District (R2). Commissioner Tim Henderson was absent.

After all who had attended the meeting just to discuss the Stephens Road properties had stood up and walked out while discussing the issue at full volume, the commission tackled other items on its agenda.

Lee University’s request to abandon a section of 4th Street N.E. between Church and North Ocoee streets was briefly discussed. The stretch of road stands between two pieces of university property and is the site of a future Communication Arts building. Commissioner Larry Presswood said there should be better signs indicating the road’s closure, adding that he had nearly driven into a fence enclosing the stretch of road at night because it was not marked well. Commissioners agreed that they would look into getting better signage but unanimously approved the abandonment of that stretch of road.

The commission then unanimously voted to de-annex a piece of single family property near Gardenia Avenue that was outside the city limits and did not connect to any city roads.

Before Mundy’s properties were addressed, commissioners approved two consent agenda items, meaning they just needed the commission’s final approval before action could be taken on them. They approved lots 13 and 14 that were part of a planned unit development in the Spring Creek Commons development on Spring Creek Drive. They also approved a reduced rear setback for a home on lot 22 of the same street.

After that meeting was adjourned, a special called meeting began to address two items that had not been added to the regular meeting’s agenda.

Exceptions to height requirements were added to the Cleveland Municipal Code’s zoning regulations. Section 3.2.B was amended to cater to manufacturers’ storage needs.

“Where necessary to accommodate the design of a manufacturing or warehousing facility, zoning height restrictions are waived to the extent necessary to accommodate the storage, handling, manufacturing, or assembly of materials and products as determined by the Director in consultation with the owner,” the amended section said.

The amendment received a unanimous vote.

A unanimous vote was also given to rezone pieces of property “containing approximately 175 acres more or less” near Durkee and Old Powerline Roads from Residential Agricultural District (RA) to Light Industry District (IL) property. Both pieces have frontage on Durkee Road, parts of which have already been “upgraded to industrial standards” to accommodate Whirlpool’s property. All commissioners agreed this land could be used to attract another manufacturing company to Cleveland.