The Johnson City Commission Thursday approved the second rezoning of one of the apartment complexes looking to build in the city, but deferred the second reading of another apartment complex, citing the developers concerns over the design overlay map.
While the second reading for the rezoning of new apartment complex set to go at the corner of West Oakland Avenue and West Mountainview Road was approved, the commission, on a motion from Vice Mayor Phil Carriger, voted to continue public hearing on the ordinance until the next meeting after appeals from some citizens voicing concerns.
Ned Evans, a resident in the Briarwood subdivision that would be affected by the rezoning, asked the commission to consider putting off the reading at the meeting because he and some of his fellow neighbors were unaware of the project.
“We would like an opportunity to get a broader reading of our neighbors in the neighborhood ... and have the opportunity to have some concrete, hopefully constructive, input on what’s going on there,” Evans said. “I would like to see it attended to where everybody concerned wins or has a good opportunity to help this be advantageous for the whole community. I have some misgivings, but I’m not trying to color my neighbors’ points of view. I’d like ... for us to have the chance just to hash this out.”
He said some of his concerns revolve around traffic flow on West Mountainview, Oakland, Knob Creek Road and Browns Mill Road, pointing out that those streets are the main access points to the city.
Carriger motioned for the extension of the public reading in order to allow Evans and his neighbors a chance to look at the rezoning and to communicate with developers and city staff.
The third reading will be deferred until the commission’s first meeting in September.
Hank Carr, owner of Belle Company Inc., Knoxville, voiced his concern of the terminology associated in the design overlay, which prompted his request for deferral of the second reading. He told commissioners their wording wasn’t clear in their own suggestions regarding the Hopewell Drive project.
“I think some terms that start off in here — ‘recommend,’ ‘should,’ ‘encourage,’ ‘shall’ — I think you need to be really clear about what those mean,” he said. “Those words can be interpreted differently by different people. You just want to be careful how those words are crafted and put a definition behind them. I don’t think you want to be telling professionals how to do something.”
Carriger said he understood where Carr was coming from and said he wanted to avoid, as a commission, being too restrictive.
“I guess I get a little bit concerned if we get too restrictive, then you’re going to really impede creativity. You’re going to impede resourcefulness, ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit if we’re so restrictive that people have a hard time understanding the code, have a hard time feeling comfortable developing in Johnson City,” Carriger said. “I see our job as not to paralyze the citizens, but to ensure safety.”