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Brand elected to serve as chairman of Historic Zoning Commission

Zach Vance • Jan 22, 2019 at 8:36 PM

In its first meeting of 2019 on Tuesday, the Johnson City Historic Zoning Commission elected Nathan Brand to serve as its chairman and Col. Paul Williamson to serve as vice chairman. 

The meeting started with city senior planner Matthew Manley recommending a variety of amendments to the commission’s bylaws, one of which would have eliminated language preventing the chairman from serving more than two consecutive terms. 

Commissioner Hal Hunter has served as chairman for two consecutive terms, and seemed poised to be elected to another term until Williamson vocalized concern about Manley’s proposed amendment change. 

Wiliamson said he was not comfortable having the chairman’s term be “open-ended,” and since only four of the seven members were present, all four would need to vote in favor for the amendment to be accepted. 

The election of new officers discussion was tabled until the latter half of the meeting, when at last, Commissioner Wesley Forsythe nominated Brand, who accepted the nomination and was unanimously voted by those present to serve as chairman for a year. 

A motion was also made to defer voting on bylaw changes related to chairman term limits until the February meeting. 

Commissioners did choose to adopt most of Manley’s proposed amendments to clean up its bylaws, including one that now defines a quorum as a majority of appointed members instead of just three members.

In other business, commissioners denied issuing a Certificate of Appropriateness for a window sign, which had already been installed at the rear entrance to Wonderland Lounge & Grill, 121 Spring St. 

Since the sign was not approved but already installed, the city will now issue a notice of violation and then proceed to civil remedies, if necessary, Development Services Director Preston Mitchell said. 

The sign featured the business’ name in red and yellow print, with martini glasses and bottles colored in pink, green and blue. 

Brand made the initial motion for denial, saying the sign contained too many colors. The commission’s design guidelines states that colors used on a sign should be “limited.”

It was the fourth time Wonderland has approached the commission attempting to get approval for signage. 

Commissioners also deferred action on a request, made by Perry Hodge, to demolish a chimney at 420 W. Pine St. Instead of outright denying it, the commission requested Hodge hire a “historic masonry expert” to evaluate the chimney and determine if it could be repaired. 

A request to install a projecting sign at 123 Commerce St. for a “Go Burrito” restaurant was also deferred since the applicant was not present and commissioners wanted a detailed rendering of what the sign would actually look like, including colors. 

A request to install a sign at Lotus Farm and Garden Supply Co., 221 Cherry St., received the only approval of the night. 

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