Zoning amendments on the books in Erwin

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 9, 2018 at 9:17 PM

The Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday gave first-reading approval to a series of zoning ordinance amendments intended to better govern how the town will look as anticipated commercial and industrial development comes to fruition.

The amendments include the addition of new corridor overlay districts along several of the town’s major thoroughfares. The new districts were recommended by the Planning Commission in keeping with several planning studies and a joint meeting of the commission and board conducted earlier this spring.

The corridor overlay districts cover major traffic arteries where new development is expected, including Second Street and Harris Hollow at Interstate 26, North Main Avenue, Jackson Love Highway and Temple Hill Road near the new Unicoi County Hospital.

The board approved two amendments to the zoning ordinance to more clearly define permissible uses in the town’s business zones. The amendments add more business uses to B2 arterial business zones and also change language defining permissible uses in B3 central business zones from “personal services” to “business and professional services.”

The amendments also include new regulations on the size and location political campaign signs and limit the duration of the signs’ placement to a maximum of 45 days prior to and seven days after an election.

In other business Monday, the board authorized street and intersection closings for fundraising activities the American Cancer Society has planned in conjunction with the Unicoi County Relay for Life coming up Aug. 25.

The activities include an evening Glo Run that Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson said that rather than a street closing, requires two officers to control traffic at a intersection near Unicoi County Middle School for a short period of time; and a cornhole tournament and fundraising dinner at the Hawg-N-Dawg restaurant for which Union Street will be closed from Main Avenue to Church Street from 3:30-8 p.m.

The board tabled the YMCA’s request for road closings for a Nov. 10 biathlon after Mayor Doris Hensley, Tilson and Fire Chief Darren Bailey all expressed concerns for their impact on public safety and public safety services.

Hensley said she was concerned that the biathlon biking and running courses both traverse major traffic corridors in the middle of the day on the Veterans Day holiday weekend, and expressed a preference for conducting such events along the Erwin Linear Trail.

Tilson noted the manpower and overtime pay that would be required to monitor multiple intersections along the two courses. And Bailey said the street closings would block in the fire department in the event they received a call during the event.

Tilson suggested the possibility of reworking the biathlon routes with the YMCA and Alderman Mark Lefever made the motion to table the request until more information is gathered.

In an update on the Harris Hollow tunnel extension of the Erwin Linear Trail to Fishery Park, Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff said the project is now expected to be completed in mid- to late August.

In other projects, Rosenoff said the contractor renovating the former Elm Street School has received State Fire Marshal approval of plans to convert the building into condominiums and expects to advertise for bids of several elements of the construction soon.

He said three downtown property owners were recently awarded $25,000 grants to update the exterior of their buildings and are also ready to advertise for bids on their projects.

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