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Commission, residents reach rezoning compromise

A compromise reached on a rezoning request in Jonesborough will be presented to county commissioners during next week’s meeting.
The public hearing held during the Oct. 7 meeting of the Washington County Regional Planning Commission brought out many residents who wanted to voice their opposition to a rezoning on Gray Station-Sulphur Springs Road.
David Martin requested a rezoning from R-1 Low Density Residential District to PBD-1 Planned Business District for the purpose of establishing a beauty shop in the vacant house on the property at 1357 Gray Station-Sulphur Springs Road and adding a small parking lot.
Ross Phillips, planner for First Tennessee Development District, said the infrastructure and the surrounding area are the two things he considers in a rezoning request, and his recommendation is in favor.
“One major factor was the proximity of other businesses on the same road, which is why the (proposed use) is not out of character,” he said. “I also looked at the intent. Parts of two parcels are requested to be rezoned, and this rezoning would look at them as one.”
According to the request, portions of each parcel would be rezoned from Gray Station-Sulphur Springs Road to the stream. This allows the arterial road section to be used for the highest and best use, while still protecting the agriculture/residential areas behind.
“Parking would be an accessory use,” Phillips said.
Planning Commission member Sam Lindley asked if any other business districts are planned for this area. Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford answered no, adding a detailed site plan would be required from Martin if the request were approved.
Martin was present at the meeting and volunteered to answer questions about his plans, though none were asked.
When Vice Chair Mark Larkey opened the floor for comments in opposition, Thomas Sells of 1358 Gray Station-Sulphur Springs Road was the first to speak.
“I don’t want a parking lot and business in my front yard,” he said. “I think it would hurt my property value, and it’s already a very busy road.”
Lonnie Church of 113 Avondale Lane said the family community already has business on both ends. “There is limited visibility,” he said. “You start putting in shopping centers, and it will make it a hazard, especially for people coming around the curve.”
John Hunt of 1342 Gray Station-Sulphur Springs Road said he lives in that curve, and it’s a very dangerous place. “The traffic has far outgrown the road, and I feel like any increase is unacceptable.”
Sarah Squibb of 106 Hillcrest Circle said she knows Martin and has no problem with the beauty shop, but expressed hesitation about the additional traffic and flooding in the area. “My concern is what if he sells it after it’s rezoned and somebody might do something else?”
Commissioner Robbie McGuire asked if a change in use would have to first come back to the Planning Commission for consideration and approval, and Rutherford confirmed that is the process that would be followed.
Larkey clarified with residents their concern is in regard to the stretch below Avondale Lane.
“These (requests) are always difficult when you have good people who have great investment in the community,” he said. “I would like to offer a possible win-win.”
Larkey asked planning commissioners to consider splitting the request and recommend rezoning only the house at this time.
Lindley asked if parking would be needed, but Martin said he could make it work.
Larkey made a motion to recommend the county commission rezone the house parcel to B-1 Neighborhood Business District. Planning Commissioner Joe McCoy seconded the motion, which passed with unanimous approval.