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Washington Co. Commission nixes rezoning request

August 26th, 2014 9:04 am by Max Hrenda

Washington Co. Commission nixes rezoning request

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After hearing several objections to a proposed rezoning request for a portion of a parcel of property in a Gray neighborhood, the county’s governing body decided against the proposal.

On Monday night at the George Jaynes Justice Center, the Washington County Commission voted 21-3 against a resolution that would have designated the property at 229 Old Stage Road as a high-density residential district, even though a portion of the property already holds the designation.

According to the rezoning request, approximately 6.2 acres of the property had previously received a high-density, or R-3, residential designation. The remaining 1.8 acres were designated as a low-density, or R-1, residential district. When asked how the property came to have two separate residential designations, Ross Phillips — a community planner for the First Tennessee Development District — said it may have occurred after several parcels were combined to form one piece of property.

“I believe they acquired it piecemeal,” Phillips said. “I’m not sure what their plan was ... or how it came to be. I think it was three or four parcels that were combined.”

According to realtor Rufus Tipton, who spoke on behalf of the property owner, uniting the property under a single designation would make it easier for that property to be sold.

“It’s in three different zones right now,” Tipton said. “They said, if you can get it zoned to one, it would help you sell. That’s the only reason we’re asking to be rezoned.”

An R-3 designation permits the construction of high-population residential buildings, like apartment complexes or mobile home parks. Residents of the surrounding neighborhood appeared to oppose the request, however. Before voicing her opposition, Old Stage Road resident Barbara Jernigan presented the commission with a petition requesting the denial of the request, primarily because of concerns over traffic flow.

“I have a petition signed by 45 people who live on Briarwood (Drive) and Old Stage Road within a half-mile of the property,” she said. “When I was collecting signatures, not a single person I spoke to was in favor of the rezoning. We have so much traffic on this road already; we don’t need any more.”

Additionally, Briarwood Drive resident Jana Simpson spoke out against the request. Simpson, whose property adjoins the rear portion of the property in discussion, added she was concerned.

“Our main concern is the traffic, as well,” Simpson said. “If a mobile home park or apartments go behind my house, it will devalue all the houses in that area.”

After hearing Jernigan’s and Simpson’s concerns, Commissioner George Oldham made a motion to deny the request, which then passed.

Also at the meeting:

• In his report, Director of Washington County Schools Ron Dykes announced that two county schools had achieved Reward School status, meaning they scored within the top 5 percent on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program exams.

“I am pleased to inform this body that Washington County had two reward schools in that list,” Dykes said. “That is Ridgeview (Elementary) School and University High School. We’re extremely proud of that.”

Dykes then told the commission he would have a more detailed report on the state of education during its September meeting.

• The meeting marked the last time 12 of the 25 commissioners would serve in their capacities after several retired and others lost in elections. The new commissioners will be confirmed in a special ceremony Thursday.

The meeting was also the final one for Keith Bowers in his capacity as county attorney. During its next meeting Sept. 2, the commission is expected to appoint an interim county attorney to replace Bowers, who was elected as Carter County’s Sessions Court judge on Aug. 7.

Follow Max Hrenda on Twitter @MaxLHrenda. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/jcpresshrenda.

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