Planning commission has full slate of requests 8/3/18

Published 3:06 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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By Jeremy Weldon

The Batesville Planning Commission had a full agenda at its regular monthly meeting Monday at City Hall. Board members heard one matter of old business, and heard eight other requests for an assortment of permits and variances. It also had its annual election of officers (chairman and vice-chairman).

Billy Atkinson asked for a conditional use permit to sell produce at 452 Hwy. 51 North. He has been operating on a three-month permit, but sought a three-month extension to continue selling fresh vegetables and fruit.

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The planning commission has this year begun approving shorter conditional use permits, and asking the Batesville Mayor and Board of Alderman to limit the months in cases where vendors are wanting to sell fruits and vegetables, seafood, and craft items.

Code Enforcement Office administrator Pam Comer has told city board members her office if working to find an area of the city that would be designated for those types of vendors and products.

Atkinson said he was fine with the three month permit the commission granted, and reported brisk sales at his vegetable stand.

Indu Vaghela addressed the board about his planned new building across from 443 Covenant Bank, next to Comfort Inn and Suites (on the northeast corner of I-55 and Hwy. 6 East). Vaghela needs a conditional use permit to allow the building to be used for multi-family apartments to provide housing for family and hotel management staff.

Originally, Vaghela told the planning commission the three-story building would be used mostly for office space for the adjacent hotels, but has decided to use all three floors for housing. Batesville Fire Chief Tim Taylor said his department has no problem with the new plan, and has already checked the building plans and said the property will have a sprinkler system that meets fire codes. The commission gave their approval to the building being used for housing, on condition the apartments never become rental properties.

The property is zoned C-2 and requires city approval to be used for any type of housing. The planning commission also approved a variance requested by Vaghela for the building to increase the maximum allowed height from 35 feet to 50 feet tall.

Although city ordinance requires a variance for any building taller than 35 feet, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen are also expected to accept the planning commission’s recommendation and allow the taller structure.

The commissioners next heard from Tonya Durance on behalf of Joey Caine Construction. The company submitted plans for Site & Building Design Standards review for paint improvements to property its own at 111 and 115 Turner Streets. Durance said the company has chosen ash grey and evergreen colors to paint the buildings for general appearance. The improvements were approved by board members as requested.

Blake Mendrop, representing Scott Creek Homes of DeSoto County presented the commission with a plan for new paint and lighting, and other general improvements, for property at 109 Eureka St., formerly known as the Medical Arts Building.

The new owners have cut back overgrown shrubs and generally improved the property’s landscaping, Mendrop said, and will continue to make cosmetic changes. The Medical Arts signage currently on the building will be removed, he said, as other businesses are moved in the complex. Cornerstone Rehabilitation will stay in that location, Mendrop said.

Sandra Strickland petitioned the commission to approve a rezoning of her property at 110 MLK Drive. The one-acre tract is surrounded by houses and is currently zoned R-7. Board members questioned Strickland, who plans to lease the metal building on the property for a convenience store, about the hours of operation the potential business would have.

Several board members were concerned about another store in a neighborhood, but agreed to recommend the rezoning if any future business was mandated to close by 10 p.m. nightly.

Strickland said many residents in the neighborhood have no vehicles and need a community store. She also pointed out that five housing projects are near the proposed store location, which used to be a church building, and a neighborhood store would keep the children from those apartments from walking and riding bicycles several blocks to the nearest store.

Mattie Kuykendall also petitioned the board for rezoning of a piece of property at 250 MLK Drive. She owns the house at the site and has been attempting to rehab it for rent or sell, but may have to demolish it because of its poor condition.

Kuykendall said if the property could be rezoned from R-7 to M-1, the option of putting a manufactured house on the lot would be opened. Comer said her office has made Kuykendall aware of the manufactured housing standards currently in place for Batesville property, and recommended the board approve the rezoning.

Also addressing the planning commission was Bill Morrow on behalf of Morrow Pump Service about his property at 300 Hwy. 51 North – the former Muscle Shoals building – where he wants to have rezoning and design standards review approved for operation of his business at that location.

Morrow recently purchased the building and is moving all his work to that location. He told the planning commission he is continuing to clean the property, inside and out, and presented the board with plans to build a sound barrier and a retaining wall for privacy.

Morrow said he wants the residents of East Street to be sure they will  not be affected by the business at the location, and he will continue to improve the appearance of the buildings.

Board members were happy to hear about the improvements to the building, which had been vacant several years before Morrow made the  move.

On the agenda, but not present for the meeting, was Clay Vance, who was expected to submit plans for a new awning for Site & Building Design Standards review, for property at 123 Van Voris St., the law office of Bobby Taylor Vance.

After listed agenda items were covered, the board briefly discussed the election of new officers and promptly re-elected Willie King as chairman.

The recommendations for approvals will now go before the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen who will either set hearings for public comment, or accept the planning commission’s findings and motions and give the final authorizations needed.