Apartment complexes get initial OK from city

Gary B. Gray • Jul 19, 2012 at 9:45 PM

The Johnson City Commission approved on first readings Thursday the rezoning of two proposed new apartment complexes that could create a total of 646 new units within the city.

The first is a 17-acre site at the corner of West Oakland Avenue and West Mountainview Road.

Mufreesboro’s TDK Construction wants to rezone the land from B-4 (Arterial Business) to R-5 (High Density Residential) to build “The Reserve.” The company has proposed a three-story, 248-unit apartment development, but the R-5 zoning would allow them to boost that to 374 units.

The property is owned by Laura Boy, who supports the request.

Ross Bradley, with TDK, told city staff that the use would be for “construction of upscale apartments including 248 units, clubhouse and amenities.”

Commissioners also approved a first reading of the concept plan for this complex, which includes proposed parking and driveway areas, entrance and exit locations, buffers and screening and setbacks.

Meanwhile, Knoxville’s Belle Company Inc. requested a rezoning of about 18 acres at the end of Hopewell Drive from PB (Planned Business) to RP-4 (Planned Residential). The rezoning would allow the developer to boost its three-story complex’s capacity from 254 to 272 units.

Commissioners eventually approved the rezoning, but the concept plan was deferred to allow the city to complete its Overlay District Plan — which is still in the works — before a final vote.

“The Overlay District has higher building standards,” said Mayor Jeff Banyas. “Because this development is on one of Johnson City’s main corridors, we want to make sure that’s what we get.”

Belle’s owner, Hank Carr, says his preference is to build multi-family units at the location.

The unnamed complex would provide a residential component to the Med-Tech Corridor and encourage a pedestrian-oriented community, according to the city’s planning staff. The property is owned by Phil Walters. This complex would be located north of the intersection of Med-Tech Parkway and North State of Franklin Road.

City staff recommended the City Commission deny both the rezoning and concept plan based on the fact this particular corridor is designated for medical and technical uses.

“We’re proposing a use that was not established for this corridor,” said Commissioner Ralph Van Brocklin , who then made a motion to defer the rezoning.

Van Brocklin stood his ground, but he was the only commissioner to do so. His motion was voted down 4-1.

Vice Mayor Phil Carriger then made a motion to proceed with the rezoning.

“I’m always leery when you have a willing buyer and a willing seller,” he said. “You’ve got a nice addition to Johnson City here that is probably worth about $7 million and will bring in about $40,000 in taxes (annually). This should proceed.”

Again the tally was 4-1. But this time Commissioner Jane Myron was the lone “no” vote.

On the advice of City Manager Pete Peterson, and the insistence on the part of Banyas that the city would complete work on its Overlay District in time to come back and consider the concept plan, commissioners voted unanimously to defer a first reading on the complex’s design.

Commissioners do plan to hold two special called meetings as completion of the Overlay District Plan comes to an end.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved a first reading of an ordinance to sell about 11 acres of land in the Tri-County Industrial Park to Tittle Construction Co. The company wants to purchase the property for $18,000 and build a 10,000-square-foot building for a small plastics manufacturer that plans to employ 20 people at this location.

Johnson City has a 25 percent interest in the park. The name of the manufacturer still has not been revealed. The industrial park is co-owned by the city, Bristol, and Sullivan County, with the land being situated in Sullivan County.

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