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Why yes, city hall can listen to opposition

Opposition paid off in two measures facing the Cabot City Council at its Monday night meeting, with one action defeated and a second sent back to committee to be “fine-tuned.”

The council also acted on the new animal control ordinance, and declared the Alpine Village Apartments, 807 North Jackson St. to be a public nuisance. In November 2013, the city cited safety concerns when it closed the complex and evacuated the residents.

Mayor Bill Cypert and aldermen Kevin Davis, Ann Gilliam, Ed Long, Jon Moore, Angie Jones and Rick Prentice attended the meeting.

City Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Yocum, city attorney Jimmy Taylor and Cabot Planning Commission chairman James Reid also attended.

Most discussion and remarks came during consideration of a rezone request for 1502 Willie Ray Drive from R-1 (single family residential) to C-2 (commercial). The request was made by Linco Inc., currently operating at a Commercial Drive location; the business makes granite countertops.

Briarwood residents have attended each meeting and hearing on the rezoning to voice their disapproval of the request.

On Monday, Reid told aldermen that the commission recommended approval because the rezoning blended well with the business corridor plans adopted by the city. The land is close to the location of the planned North Terminal Interchange, which is expected to open in about five years. With that opening, the future land use for that area can be expected to become commercial, Reid said.

Since the land borders upon and faces U.S. Highway 67/167, and is bordered by a natural gas pipeline as well, the commercial use is consistent with the city’s Land Use Plan, Reid said.

The interchange would connect the commercial area on the west side of the highway to the Second Street Business Corridor on the east side, which in turn connects to the business corridors being developed on Pine Street, Highway 321, and Highway 5.

Reid emphasized that the requested C-2 zoning does not allow outside display/storage. The outside storage now used by Linco, which has been one of the points made by Briarwood residents, is allowed in C-3; outside storage would not be allowed at the Willie Ray Drive location, Reid said.

Residents responded with concerns ranging from increased high-speed traffic on Willie Ray Drive to violation of bills of assurance. Also, using light-duty residential roadways for heavy trucks was questioned, saying the trucks would destroy the street.

Briarwood resident Bud Hampton emphasized that with the first transaction for land in the area, dating from 1873, use of the land for business has been prohibited.

“I want to know where the city council gets their authority … to put a business out there?” Hampton remarked. In his remarks, Hampton said he had retained an attorney and planned to contest the rezoning in court.

With Hampton’s declaration, Cypert ended discussion saying further remarks needed to be between attorneys.

A roll-call vote showed Davis, Long, Gilliam, Prentice, Jones, Moore [Buchanan] voting against approval, with Flynn vote for approval.

In another matter, members of Criswell-Robinson, Cabot American Legion Post 71, led by post commander James Sanders, called on aldermen to consider changing the proposed city sign ordinance to better meet the needs of local, not-for-profit organizations.

The proposed ordinance was on the meeting agenda for its second reading.

Sanders said that the American Legion Post relies heavily on a portable sign to reach a wider range of people in announcing fund-raising events. But such a sign is not allowed under the proposed ordinance.

The fundraisers support the post’s sponsorship of a wide range of community and civic functions such as memorials, scouting, Boy’s State, citizenship, Thanksgiving dinners, sports teams and others, Sanders said. Being a not-for-profit organization, fund-raising events are the source of revenue that meets the costs of such support, he said.

Without the fund-raisers, there would be only membership dues for funds, “It would put us in a financial hardship and we may not be able to continue to support these local programs…,” Sanders said.

Sanders called on the council to develop wording in the ordinance that would allow for such temporary signs.

While the ordinance reading was approved, it is with the understanding that public work director Brian Buroughs would try to change the wording. Blending the revision into the approval process would other wise take at least 60 days, Buroughs said.

In other rezone actions, approval was given for 1114 West Locust St. from R-1 to C-2. In presenting the action, Reid explained the recommendation to approve is based on the city land-use plan, that the area is already predominantly commercial, and its proximity to U.S. Highway 67/167. “The property is surrounded by commercial … it is right up close to the freeway,” in an area planned to be commercial, Reid said.

There was no public comment on the request, and the council voted to approve the action.

Action to approve rezoning of 102 North 5th Street from R-1 to C-2, with a special-use permit for storage units, was returned to the Planning Commission for presentation and action at a later meeting. Returning the request to the commission was at Reid’s request.

Rezoning South Pine Street lots at 1307, 1309, 1311, 1313, and 1315, was approved by the council. At the May 19 council meeting, Reid said there was no current plan for the properties; the rezoning was requested by property owners who wished to be consistent with the land-use set out by the Pine Street Business Corridor and the expected commercial development of the area.

During public comment on the June 16 reading, Nathan Smith, a land broker, encouraged the council to accelerate approval for the pending sale of some of the properties.

The council approved the accelerated approval, with an emergency clause to make the change effective immediately. Routine approval would have required a third reading at the next meeting of the council.

The council also approved rezoning 600 South Jackson St. from R-1 (single family) to R-2 (multi-family).

Consideration of the action declaring the Alpine Village Apartments as a public hazard was tabled at the May 19 council meeting at the request of potential buyers of the property.

Taylor on Monday told the council that he has not been contacted by anyone concerning the apartments since the May 19 meeting.

The council approved the ordinance.

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