Planning Commission denies rezoning request

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, February 11, 2015


After hearing concerns from neighborhood residents and the city’s planning director, the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission Tuesday denied a developer’s request to rezone his property for higher-density use.
Several residents of the neighborhood surrounding the development site attended Tuesday night’s meeting, where they expressed their concerns about Chris Hollifield’s planned home development.
Hollifield requested that his property off Parker Drive be rezoned from R-1 to R-3 to develop a gated community of single-family homes. He asked for the zoning change because he wants to develop smaller lots than the minimum 10,000 square feet required in the normal R-1 residential zone.
Hollifield wanted to develop the rocky, hillside 5.7-acre lot into 18 to 25 7,500-square-foot lots for three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes that range from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet.
Director of Planning and Development Jon Hartman told the commission that city staff recommended against the R-3 zone. If the property was rezoned to R-3, it could be developed into apartment buildings or businesses in the future.
“The R-3 zone goes against the rest of the zoning in that community,” Hartman said.
He suggested the property be rezoned to R-1A, which follows all the allowed uses of the R-1 zone but allows for smaller lot sizes. If the property was rezoned to R-1A it would be the first in the city, he said.
Commissioner Dena Bass said she was not comfortable with rezoning the property to a new zone she was not familiar with.
“(Zone R-1A) was originally designed for the Black Bottom community,” Hartman said. “It protects the residential community and only allows for single-family homes but allows them to be built on smaller lots.”
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, the commission heard from several residents of the neighborhood around Parker Drive. All were worried that the possible new development would further harm their community, which was still suffering from damage from the past two developments near Parker Drive, they said.
David Campbell told the commission he was opposed to both the rezoning and the development.
“There are two hillsides, and the storm water accumulates in the valley and travels through a dirt ditch to a runoff tunnel on my property,” Campbell said. “We have had flooding because of the other developments. I believe these changes will cause more runoff and more flooding.”
Mike Castle echoed the concerns of his neighbor. He said the street was still “reeling” from the last development that was put in, and said his home now had a wet weather spring under the crawl space from the blasting and the driveway had been destroyed because of runoff from the previous work.
Tammy Fair said she had suffered flooding at her home during both of the previous development’s construction.
“In 20 years, I never had a problem with flooding,” she said. “I talked to the city, and I talked to the state. I was told there was something we could do, but there has been nothing and there is still flooding.”
Jessica Houston presented her concerns about what the increased traffic would do to the smaller residential streets. She said cars already have difficulty passing on the small street and was worried what adding more cars to the community would cause.
Cathy Castle said many in the neighborhood bought homes because it was a quiet community on a dead-end street. When the other developments were added, it changed the community and brought the flooding and traffic problems in.
“When the first developer didn’t adhered to the plans, it did not leave a good feeling for development in our community,” Castle said. “Really consider what is being asked and look at all these people here who own homes.”
Chairman Paul Bellamy asked Hartman if the city’s development standards had been met in this development, noting the work had been done before Hartman’s tenure as planning director started.
“The development was not done to a standard I would have held a developer to,” Hartman said.
Hollifield told the residents he was sorry they had such a negative experience with the other developer, but that he would follow requirements and not do anything that would harm their properties.
“I think this will be a good thing,” he said. “I tried to find something that would work for Elizabethton and will work to make it what someone would want to live in.”
Bass made a motion to deny the request to rezone the property from R-1 to R-3, but asked Hollifield to consider the R-1A zone and come back to the commission.
“I think this is a viable option for you,” she said.
Bill Taylor seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved to deny the rezoning request.

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