City urged to rezone properties

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New rules on quarries and reclassifying 18 properties from residential to commercial have been issues for the Lewisburg City Council this week as another vote on the former was anticipated last night when the latter became a new topic of concern.

Last year, an excavation company was blasting at the city industrial park to loosen and reposition rock, sparking complaints from the nearby Walker Die Casting business and that led to recurring discussion, study, and code rewriting by the city's planning commissioners.

While a property owner's representative claimed some land was being leveled for a building, the excess gravel was seen by some officials as an indication that quarrying was being conducted. The issue was taken to planning commissioners, who have written a new section of the zoning ordinance to define quarry activities.

The commissioners' recommendations to create a definition of quarrying for the city code have been considered, returned to the commission and been the subject of at least two council votes.

Council was scheduled to meet at 6 o'clock last night to continue toward a decision on the issue.

The latest proposal "will prohibit contractors, developers and others from using parcels (of land) to move dirt, rock and such unless they are properly rezoned," according to City Manager Eddie Fuller.

Only one parcel of land would be unaffected because of common law grandfather rights.

Meanwhile, planning commissioners have recommended rezoning 18 tracts of land from residential to commercial.

The properties are located around 5th Avenue North, between Brents Road and Greenwood Avenue. Many of the lots have homes and they face the city garage. All but two of the 18 properties front on 5th Avenue.

Planning Commission Chairman Jim Bingham has explained that rezoning homes where people live will not increase their property tax bills because the land is assessed by use, not zoning. He's also indicated that the zoning change might later place a greater value on the properties if they're eventually sold by heirs to a business for commercial use.

Planning Commissioner Gary Davis concurs.

"I voted for it," Davis said. "Possibly in the future, as Lewisburg grows, the property around there could be used for other businesses."

This broad rezoning recommendation is to reclassify land now zoned as R-3, or high density residential land, to a C-2 classification for and intermediate business use. Nearby are much larger properties zoned C-2 and just north of Biggers Market is the Sisters 3 restaurant, which was recently rezoned from a residential to a commercial zone.

The proposed change for the 18 properties has just reached the council for its consideration this week. A public hearing is to be announced and later conducted by the council.

In another rezoning matter, David Sullivan has asked the city to rezone a house he owns near the Hardison Annex building used by Marshall County for various offices. Sullivan wants to sell antiques at a building that otherwise looks like a home.

It's one of three properties: 337 Franklin Road, 323 Franklin Road and 504 Fourth Ave. that would be rezoned from R-3 to C-2. Sullivan owns two of the properties. Citizens Bank of Russellville, Ala., owns 323 Franklin Road.

Such re-zonings have prompted city officials to consider a broad re-examination of the city's zoning map.

"It's about time we looked at our whole map and see where our commercial development is going, rather than a piece here and a piece there," the city manager said.