Riverview Town Homes to be completed; unusual property subdivision granted

Published 8:56 am Friday, May 6, 2016

Star Photo/Rebekah Price  The third phase addition to Riverview Town Homes will add 107 residential dwellings to the existing first and second phases on Stonewall Jackson Drive.

Star Photo/Rebekah Price
The third phase addition to Riverview Town Homes will add 107 residential dwellings to the existing first and second phases on Stonewall Jackson Drive.

The final phase of a town home complex off West Elk Avenue was approved for completion by Planning Commission Thursday. It will connect phase one and two, adding a total of nine separate structures and 107 residential dwellings.

“I feel like this will be a good addition to Elizabethton,” said Rodney Sawyer, contracted community planner with the First Tennessee Development District.

This will be the final phase of the town home complex located near Lowes on Stonewall Jackson Drive.

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The Commission also approved the subdivision of a 50-square-foot property which lies between two private properties. Though Sawyer researched property deeds and other documents for both neighboring property owners, she could find no definite ownership of the small parcel. Mention of the parcel is made in both the private property owners’ deeds, which she said suggests it was intended for right of way purposes to the two properties.

Charles LaPorte owns one of the properties and was hoping to subdivide it in order to create a driveway to his property, as the neighboring property owner has done.

The struggle for the Commission was whether to approve subdivision when land ownership was truly vague, or to let it sit idle, when it appeared to be intended for right of way usage, as LaPorte was meaning to do.

The land tract lies at the end of Ferguson Avenue, and LaPorte said improved access could benefit both himself and the neighboring property owner.

“I think the way that a developer would look at is that while we can’t document everything in the past on paper, that the assumption was that this was designed so that we would have two large parcels that are not landlocked but had access to Ferguson,” said LaPorte.
He said the parcel was mentioned in both his and his neighbor’s deed, and that it was clearly the intent of the deed, as expressed in statements like “for the benefit of…” which are used in the deeds.

“Here I am today asking you to clear some of the fog and to say, ‘that should be okay,’” said LaPorte.

Commissioners approved of the subdivision of the parcel to allow for an additional driveway to LaPorte’s property, but insisted on explaining the reasoning clearly in the meeting minutes, to prevent setting a precedent of decision based on lack of clarity in property deeds.

Chairman Paul Bellamy said he thought a similar instance arising was highly unlikely.

“It’s a most unusual property, because we don’t have any legal document or record of deed that we know of,” he said.

In other news, at a Board of Zoning Appeals meeting prior to the Planning Commission meeting, whose members are the same, board members granted a 5-foot  property setback variance to a man who has been quite frustrated by the setback requirements affecting his property at 818 Cambridge Avenue in the Black Bottom community.

James Whaley wants to build a 10-foot wide porch in front of his house, but due to the requirement of a 30-foot setback from the street, it was not allowed. However, considering his neighbors homes across the street were much closer to the road, and considering it would only infringe five feet on the setback rule, leaving a 25-foot gap between his porch and the road, the board approved unanimously.

Two commissioners, Vicky Manuel and Melanie Sellers were absent. The next meeting is set for June 2 at 6 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers.