Thursday, July 17, 2008
Board returns item to zoning
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors refused to act on a property owner’s request Monday without a recommendation from the zoning board.
Mitchell Norman appeared at the board of supervisors meeting with a request to rezone 2.6 acres of Agricultural Residential property to Commercial-1.
His property on two tracts of land near Old Highway 78 and Rabbit Ridge Road was presented to the zoning board, which failed to make a recommendation, according to director Conway Moore.
She sent out 16 letters to residents with land adjacent to the tracts in question with two families responding and opposing Norman’s request to rezone his property so he can build a 60 foot by 40 foot structure to operate a barber and beauty shop.
Norman’s property is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, Moore said. Objectors were concerned about traffic congestion and spot zoning and the inability to control what future use the property might come to if the property is rezoned commercial, Moore said.
Norman said he is a licensed barber and would cut hair in one section of the building and rent the other part out. He had presented a design to the planning commission which refused to act on the matter.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett and other supervisors, including Keith Taylor, were upset that the planning commissioners failed to act, saying later in the day that the commission was set up to take politics out of zoning decisions.
“They had all the necessary information and listened to all concerns and said they were not recommending,” Moore said of the commission.
Quickly, supervisor George Zinn III motioned to send the matter back to the zoning commission for another look and his motion passed unanimously.
“That’s what zoning is for,” said Bennett. “You appeal to us after they decide one way or another.”
Norman appeared to be upset as if he were getting the run-around.
In later discussions, supervisor Taylor said he was expecting a similar situation to come up in his district where a property owner would want to put a business in a residential area. He wanted to get clear with the planning commission members that they are to make a recommendation either for or against a rezoning or permit request.
Bennett said he would consider replacing his district representative and supervisors agreed that the planning commission must carry out its duties, otherwise, they said, there is no need to have a commission.
In a separate matter, the board took an unusual direction in attempting to settle a dispute between community members and a property owner who had been denied a permit to operate a four-wheeler racing club.
In summarizing the facts, Moore noted that in November 2006, Fred Kelly came before the planning commission asking to build a race track. His request was denied by the planning commission; then in July 2007 the planning commission sent out letters and approved a six-month probationary trial period.
But the board of supervisors said Kelly could not operate the four-wheeler club, which Kelly said consisted mostly of family members and some friends.
One neighbor, Kathy Vilseck, had objected to the track/club because of noise, damage to roadways and private properties, a loud public address system, and the possibility riders could be hit by automobiles.
There were lots of individuals already riding four-wheelers in the area.
In October 2006, Kelly was denied permission to operate a four-wheeler club on his property and in November that year the board of supervisors upheld the planning commission’s decision.
Then in June 2007, Kelly met with the planning commission after reapplying for a permit and the commission gave him six months probation to show he could run a sound operation but the supervisors overruled the decision.
Then on June 20 this year, Kelly held an event without a permit and promoted the event with flyers, which he said were made up by his daughter without his approval.
So, Vilseck got on the board’s agenda Monday to express her concern.
Supervisor Zinn asked Kelly to speak to the issue, adding that he opposed Kelly’s unapproved event because of community opposition.
“It was clear you did not have authority to do it,” he said.
Kelly excused himself, saying it was to be a family event, his daughter printed up flyers, and he did not know admission was being charged.
Supervisors Bennett and Zinn then read from the record.
That is when Kelly’s friend Bobby Joe Adkins, who has stood with him in prior appearances before the board, alleged that the board of supervisors seemed to be in conflict with the planning commission.
“It is my concern and loyalty to the people affected who are living in the area where it is happening,” said Zinn.
Bennett offered personal stories.
“It is hard for me to let the county or the city (Potts Camp) tell me what I can do and can’t do with my property,” he said to Kelly. “Overall, it makes me ill, but it’s for the best interest of the county to have zoning to protect property values and to keep the peace.
“Somebody is going to be mad, no matter what. People do not want to listen to all that racket. You get 70 or 80 people out there and noise and congestion and you are going to have objections.
“Mr. Bennett, I can see there is going to be a problem. The issue came up that 4-wheelers are tearing up the roads - something you can’t do anything about whether it is from people living in the community who are riding. I don’t know how you are going to solve it.”
He added that there was no race Sunday night but there was “riding on the Jones place out in the bushes on Highway 72.”
“What if someone gets killed?” Bennett asked Kelly. “They are going to get everything you’ve got.”
“They are up there and I don’t know it and sometimes I do know it,” Kelly said.
Bennett said if it were his property, he’d post it and give only family members permission to ride there.
“I would like to see everyone in the community affected to be in agreement,” said Zinn.
Kelly said he would like to have a church benefit and sell food every now and then.
“Would that encompass four-wheeler racing?” Zinn asked.
“No, but some children would be riding and playing,” said Kelly. “It would not include a full-scale, four-wheeler race and there would be no charge to race.”
“My understanding was this was just a family function of yours,” Zinn said.
Vilseck said there was concern about children riding after dark with no lights on the busy road in Wall Hill - that they carried 3-year-olds with them.
“I’d like to know, just what is her problem that she is so against it,” Kelly said.
Vilseck said she was the only one before the board but others in the community opposed the racing but won’t complain because they think it will do no good.
Zinn said he had raised the issue himself regarding the damage to county roads from four-wheelers creating ruts in the banks.
Kelly said his children did not damage the roads and arrived at his property with the ATVs on trailers.
“Are you willing to talk to each other?” asked Zinn.
Vilseck answered, “We probably could.” She said her biggest objection was Kelly’s disrespect to the board by “holding races on his property after the board said no.”
Vilseck and Kelly withdrew to the court room with Moore for face-to-face discussions and reappeared with a compromise later.
They agreed that Kelly would post his property for no trespassing and put up a gate to keep unauthorized riders out.
He would then schedule an event, keep the public address system in low gear, and close down at 9 p.m.
If that all works out, Kelly would be allowed to hold one event a month. He agreed to get a business license from the county and state.
After the terms of the agreement were worked out, Kelly asked permission to charge admission to his events and to sell food.
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