Despite some debate amongst citizens, the Montgomery City Council accepted the report of the Planning and Zoning Commission for several tracts of land at the May 29 city council meeting.
The council accepted reports and recommendations on seven properties, including the controversial 712 Community Center Dr., Montgomery. Assistant to the City Administrator Dave McCorquodale said the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended not reclassifying the land from industrial to commercial, which the council agreed on unanimously.
“After hearing the feedback from an adjacent owner, the commission thought a commercial use upon that street would not improve the neighborhood,” McCorquodale said.
The owner of the property, Patricia Easley, said she wants the council to approve the rezoning so she can operate her small food delivery business more effectively.
“My business adds no conflict to the area,” Easley said. “I’ve been there for 17 years, and I’ve been in business since 2010.”
Shirley Nicholas, an adjacent homeowner, said she is concerned for the future of the area if the rezoning is approved.
“I remember a time when it was a quiet street with very few houses there. I remember less traffic,” Nicholas said. “It is very difficult at times, in the mornings and in the evenings … If something happens, if she decides to leave or they sell the property, could someone else come to the street and change it and cause even more confusion on that small road?”
Council member Rebecca Huss said she understood the commission’s recommendation because she uses the drive often to take her children to school.
“It’s a narrow street in which the carrier line participants and the buses seem to have a well-choreographed sense of where people need to go, but there are people driving on the wrong side of the road [and] buses that swerve in front of cars,” Huss said.
City Administrator Jack Yates said Easley’s current business is “perfectly fine” to operate in her home under the current designation, but if the area was rezoned, any business such as a gas station or a grocery store could come into the area.
All other reports were accepted without debate. The council plans to vote on moving forward with actual rezoning at a later, unspecified date.
Residential permits, water meters, parade route closures
In other news Tuesday, the council heard departmental reports for April. During the administrative report, council members discussed the ramifications of House Bill 852, a bill passed on May 24 that forbids single-family residential building permit costs to be based on property value.
McCorquodale said although the state did not specify the way cities should determine costs, he thinks it will likely be based on square footage. Huss recommended that once more information is gathered that the council reconvenes for a special meeting to determine the costs.
"Call us back for a special session if you have something that could get us back open for business," Huss said. "Because it's ridiculous that the legislature that thinks we're the problem is preventing us from being open."
Mike Muckleroy, director of Public Works, also spoke about potentially changing water meters to a newer ultrasonic model. The model is about $80 more than the ones currently in use, which will increase tap fees, but will last 20 years as opposed to the current ones which require rebuilding every five years.
The council also approved the closing of College Street and the surrounding areas for the annual Freedom Fest Parade on July 6. The intersection of College Street and McCown Street will be closed 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 12:30 p.m. and the streets along the route will be closed at that time.