Plan Commission to recommend rezoning behind highway garage
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 10:00 AM
The Madison Plan Commission will recommend the City Council rezone a 10-acre plot of land located behind the county highway garage for three separate uses.
The board voted 6-2 Tuesday night with one abstention to make the recommendation.
Madison Chemical currently owns the land. Five acres are being offered to the county at a cost of $22,500 for additional space that officials said is desperately needed at the county garage.
Under the recommendation, Madison Chemical would have 5 acres rezoned for industrial use, while 2 of the county's 5 acres would be used as a buffer zone to separate residents on Meadow Lane and the industrial land.
Tom Pietrykowski, president of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, said the county was willing to make several steps toward a compromise he felt would be acceptable to residents.
The first item was increasing the buffer zone between Meadow Lane and the edge of the newly zoned property to 200 feet. The county also agreed to build an earthen berm with trees and fences to decrease the visibility of anything built on the land from the residences.
County officials said they would be open to discussing specifics with local residents about the trees planted and types of privacy fences used.
Second, an emergency road would not be used for regular traffic. Residents issued concerns about traffic coming down Meadow Lane if the road was used full-time.
Pietrykowski said the third issue would be that the natural space would follow the natural drainage flow of the area.
The fourth issue would be the location of the cinder pile. Pietrykowski said the commissioners would be willing to leave the cinder pile where it is currently located.
A large issue during this debate has been whether or not development would decrease the value of homes in the area. Bill Barnes, a resident of Meadow Lane, said he contacted an independent appraiser who said property values would decrease. Barnes said if he looked at a home with a berm and trees, he likely would not have moved in.
Virginia Wilson, who also lives on Meadow Lane, said she would gladly pay more money to move the garage away from her home because of the impact a new garage would have to her home.
"It won't affect anyone else in this room," she said. "It'll affect me."
Meadow Lane residents mostly had limited contact with county officials since the previous Plan Commission meeting about compromise on the buffer zone. Both sides suggested they had been waiting for the other to initiate discussions about how to proceed.
Merritt Alcorn, the attorney representing Madison Chemical, said this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone because the county garage and Madison Chemical have been in that location for several years and an expansion was not outside the realm of possibility.
Alcorn said if this zoning recommendation didn't pass, it would "force the city into a conflict" that would likely result in a "losing lawsuit" for the city.
"The result of this is the city will be involved with a lawsuit with the county," Alcorn said if the recommendation didn't go forward.
Residents also referenced the Environmental Protection Agency's battle regarding coal cinders, which are currently being stored at the county garage. If the EPA rules to no longer use coal cinders, that would free up additional space at the garage, making the need for rezoning a waste, residents said.
The zoning issue will come before City Council in April and county officials and residents will have until that time to iron out details.