Thursday, February 20, 2014
Zoning OKs water tower
By SUE WATSON
An elevated water tank the Marshall County Water Association wants to put on property zoned Commercial 2 can go up as requested.
Residents of Barton Heights subdivision have opposed the tank that will back up to the subdivision on three acres of land.
Members of the water association, which serves the subdivision and homes and businesses in the Barton area, have looked for property that would be in the best price range to keep construction costs down. Ultimately, the tank will help provide water at cheaper rates and plenty of water pressure for the growing needs in the area.
The matter was presented in November to the zoning board and tabled. It was taken back up on January 9.
Nita Hurdle, Tammy Dewerff, Jimmy Woods and Tom Taylor represented the association.
Opposing the measure were members of the Barton Heights subdivision.
Speaking for the association, a not-for-profit, Hurdle said, “Water is a natural resource and precious resource for our community.”
The association provides water for residents and the fire department.
She said residents in the certificated area of the fire department get lower insurance rates because of the water supply to fight fires.
Other facts she listed included:
• the property backs up to a gas line and no one can build on it.
• the tower would make good use of the land.
• water will be supplied to the entire community.
• water pressure is needed to supply customers all the way to Oak Grove at the state line.
• members live on Farley Road and as far almost as the Coldwater River.
• the association has 1,400 members.
At the opening of the meeting there were four in favor of the location for the elevated tank and eight against.
Tim Redmon, Clista Ash, Terry Dixon, Lloyd and Charlene Yarborough, and Joann and L.C. Kirk opposed the location behind Barton Heights.
Ash, who has responsibility for a property in Barton Heights, said it is located directly behind the projected tower.
“It’s going to totally destroy the value of that property,” she said. “I can’t imagine looking out and seeing the legs of that tower.”
She said values in the homes in the subdivision are $250,000 and up. She said the elevation is lower than in the subdivision and she was told the tower needed height.
Hurdle said it would cost $1 million to put the tower there.
Ash said the tower would destroy the area for new residential construction and it was opposed in other areas as well.
Board member Bobby Bonds said, “It’s coming whether we like it or not.”
“Not in my backyard,” Ash said.
Tim Redmon has lived in the subdivision since 1996. He said Barton Heights has “beautiful lots, beautiful houses, and great neighbors.”
“It’s part of the peace of coming home from a day’s work,” he said. “One of the few things I have is equity in my home.”
He said there are other locations for a tower. He suggested the association find a place for the tower in an undeveloped area. That way, people would know in advance, if they bought land near it.
Zoning director Ken Jones said the property is zoned C-2 and that eventually something is going on that spot.
Lloyd Yarborough was one of the first to buy land in the cove. He said the people in the area lost the fight to keep the land from being zoned commercial.
“Don’t do to us, what we would not do to you,” he said. “Put it in Sweetwater or if a business owns property, put it there.”
Bonds said that former zoning director Conway Moore had the right to sidestep a hearing and give the water association a permit to locate the tower on that land without asking for comment from residents in Barton Heights Cove.
Board member Joe Hurdle explained the zoning rules.
“A water tank is like a railroad, you can just put it anywhere. It’s a public service. It’s legal to put it anywhere,” he said.
Lloyd Yarborough suggested the association look into burying the water tank, as was done in the Germantown, Tenn., area when residents opposed a tower.
Charlene Yarborough said when they bought property in Barton Heights, the area was beautiful. They planted trees. The birds can be enjoyed.
“While water is a natural resource, a water tank is not,” she said. “It would take away so much of the reason why we are there.”
Terry Dixon of the cove said in some states, water towers are being taken down and variable-speed pumps are handling the water supply needs. He asked the association to look into the matter before settling on a tower.
Emily Jordan, who lives in Oak Grove subdivision on Cedar Oak Drive, was in favor of the tank.
“The truth is we need water,” she said.
Jordan said she researched land values and how much they will go down if a water tower goes in.
Her research said when and if the property actually sells, the tower did not affect the value at all.
A water tower is probably less intrusive than a store which draws traffic, she said. She has no concerns about her child’s safety near a tower. And building on more costly property will make the water rates for members go up, she said.
Attorney Jimmy Woods added that the site will be clean, there will be no additional traffic, and towers are not noisy or junky. Long-term planners do not know where developments will be placed, he said. And towers have to go where development goes.
Nita Hurdle added, “We are citizens, too, and we try to keep the rates low. It is so hard to do.”
“What we are trying to do is make harmony here,” Joe Hurdle said. “There are hard feelings.”
Nita Hurdle added, “You are a member of the water association. You love drinking the water. It’s not our purpose to offend or make anybody unhappy. I do not know how long this property will be available.”
The association has an option to buy the land from Earl Warren.
Board member R.J. Wilson spoke.
“I believe if we turn it down today, the board of supervisors will overrule it because the property is zoned for it,” he said. “And the board will not want something else more objectionable there.”
Frustrated, Bonds said, “I probably would have missed this meeting today, if I had known this. The supervisors have the decision. The supervisors take the heat.”
Joe Hurdle said he believes the board of supervisors will uphold the zoning board’s decision.
“It’s legal,” he said.
“How do you all want to handle it today?” Jones asked.
“I move we approve,” said Hurdle.
“Second,” said Wilson.
“Third,” said Bonds.
The zoning board’s decision was not appealed to the board of supervisors.
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