Thursday, July 1, 2010
Zoning OKs Waterford project
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Zoning Commission unanimously approved a permit in June for an entertainment park on Highway 7 South below Wall Doxey State Park.
Developer Scott Robinson faced a number of community members who objected to the park in order to ultimately win the commission’s nod of approval.
The commission approved the construction of a restaurant, rodeo arena and playground for children on the 120-acre site.
Robinson said the park entrance will be built on Highway 7 South and his venue is spotted in the middle of woodlands which he says will act as a buffer for noise.
The planning commission sent out 14 letters. Four approvals, two objections and one letter with questions were returned. Robinson also presented a petition with 357 names in favor of the entertainment park.
He said he dreams big but knows in fact that he will start out small. He would like the park to grow to include a pavilion for entertainment, a campground for RVs and look something like recreational parks in Philadelphia, Neshoba County, or a frontier-style park like in Cheyenne with a rodeo.
“I would start small and hope to draw a crowd,” he said.
The crowd was what some vocal members of the Waterford community objected to. They said they do not want the traffic, the noise, the lights and the crowds.
Ray Garrett, attorney for Margaret Herndon, a resident of Wilson Golden Road located opposite the proposed site, listed a number of objections which were also raised by others. He said Robinson’s application did not indicate that such a large venue was under consideration and said the application did not include a Philadelphia-style venue.
Robinson said he brought the pictures of Philadelphia theme parks for an illustration - saying he does not know exactly how the park will develop.
Garrett asked the board to look at what would actually be done, the trash to be generated, the lighting, the traffic problems, which he said the county and the area are not set up to handle. He questioned the use of alcohol and the possibility of a horse-racing track.
Conway Moore, who recused herself since she has an investment in the project, said special exception allows a rodeo in areas zoned agricultural. But Garrett argued that the letter sent out to adjacent landowners said Robinson was asking for a variance.
Commissioner Bill Kinkade suggested Robinson should specify his intentions even though he had expressed a broad vision for potential use.
Herndon spoke for herself, saying sound travels in the bottomland on Wilson Golden Road - that people can stand and talk in the summertime and can be heard yards away.
“A rodeo is one thing, a public address system is another,” she said.
Evelyn Elliott expressed opposition due to possible noise that would be generated as well as the potential effect on children in the neighborhood.
“I am a preacher and have to stay up (preparing for services) and I will hear this. Find some other place,” Elliott said. “A recreational park is not a family event. It is more for people carousing and drinking.”
Several individuals expressed concern that once the park opens the owners can put in anything they want. They wanted to know how broad the land use permit would be.
John Paul Carpenter, who was in favor of the park, said operators have to know when to kick out an unruly customer and how to manage noise.
“You gotta know when to close, when to manage,” he said. “These people in life...the car track (Holly Springs Motor Park) jars my house. Should we kick them out? I count the garbage cans. If I see seven garbage cans full, I know they bought that in Holly Springs.”
Those in opposition to the park continued to press for information on how the park would be operated in the future and its affects on the local community.
Planning Commission attorney Gene Brown said the special exception can be made as narrow or broad as the commission wants it.
“It does not have to be wide open to encompass all these prospective uses,” he said. “It’s not carte blanche. Down the road he would have to come back and make another request.”
Others speaking in favor of the development included Louis Bailey and First State Bank president Sam McClatchy, who both said local investors are needed to build businesses and provide much-needed jobs.
Lake Johnson said the development was “an accident waiting to happen.”
Attorney Brown then pointed out that the land in question is zoned agricultural, and parks, playgrounds, golf courses, country clubs, etc. are already permitted without asking for a special exception.
The matter was resolved when commissioner Flick Ash said enough comment had been heard both pro and con. He motioned to permit Robinson an exception limited to the operation of a restaurant, a rodeo and playground for children. The motioned passed unanimously.
In other matters, the zoning board:
• approved a request for a special exception from Laverne Crutcher, who wanted to convert a single-wide on her property to a double-wide. The board approved her request and gave her six months to complete the renovation. The area is zoned for double-wides.
• denied a request from Tosha Mason-Poplar to operate a childcare center at a house she and her family intend to build. Zoning sent out 59 letters with two approvals and 26 objections returned. Those objecting said the business was in violation of the subdivision covenants that the area be used only for residences.
The Poplars argued that several individuals in the subdivision operate businesses out of their homes, but one homeowner said only home offices are in operation and that the businesses were located elsewhere.
Some homeowners said they bought a lot in the subdivision because the covenants said no businesses would be operated out of the subdivision.
• approved the relocation of a church.
• denied permission for Victoria Church to put a cemetery in the back of the church lot. The lot is located in a subdivision. Commissioners said the lot was too small to serve as a cemetery which has to be kept up forever even if a church closes its doors.
• approved the rezoning of 10 acres from R-E to C-2. The property is adjacent to the Bill Adair property north of Highway 72 which is also zoned commercial. Davie Seldon and others asked for the rezoning.
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