A request by Madison Chemical to rezone a 10-acre plot of land behind the county highway garage on Meadow Lane was tabled by the Madison City Plan Commission on Monday.

The request involves dividing the land into three zoning sections: Heavy industrial for Madison Chemical, and then light industrial and residential agriculture for a portion of land to be sold.

Earlier this year, Madison Chemical approached Jefferson County officials about selling five of the 10 acres that front Meadow Lane to the county for highway garage space needs. The land would cost the county about $22,500, but no purchase has been made.

Of the five acres that would go to the county, Madison Chemical proposed keeping one acre zoned as residential agricultural in hopes of using it as a buffer or green space between a possible highway garage expansion and nearby residents.

After hearing comments from Meadow Lane residents, county officials, Madison Chemical president Dick Goodman and attorney Merritt Alcorn, who was representing Madison Chemical, board members said they sensed that a compromise could still be made.

"I think there is still room to talk," said board member Bob Waller, who proposed tabling the issue. "I'd sure like to see you guys walk down the street and wave with a full hand," he said.

The board has 60 days to consider the written request.

Waller also asked the area residents to come to a consensus of what they would like to see out of the rezoning.

Alcorn argued the plan was a "reasonable zoning expansion under the circumstances," and he challenged that no evidence was brought to the board that proved the proposal would hurt property values in the neighborhood.

While the residents preferred that the rezoning be denied and contended that such a plan would harm property values - or at least scare off potential buyers - a common theme became the portion of land that fronts Meadow Lane.

A few residents opposing the plan said they would at least like to see the green space continue farther back from the road. The current proposal calls for 126 feet.

Michael Searcy, who lives at 222 Meadow Lane, proposed a number of options to the board, even asking the board to deny the zoning and allow the county to argue the use of eminent domain.  

But if the plan goes forward, he argued that 126 feet of green space is only about the distance from the road to most residents' front doors.

"Make it go back twice as far," he said. "Make it two acres."

Following the public comments, board president Darrell Henderson made a motion to approve a zoning recommendation to the City Council that extended the green space 200 feet, but Waller said he felt as though residents and Madison Chemical were on their way to some sort of agreement.

County Commission president Tom Pietrykowski said he would not speak for the council or other county officials, but he said the buffer zone could maybe extended another half-acre.  

Alcorn told the board that Madison Chemical would be interested in discussing the proposal further with residents.

"We're fine with that," he said.

The intended use for the green space in question would include a fence separating it from a possible highway garage expansion, as well as a road only open for emergency traffic, Pietrykowski said. Also, the additional storage space would not include a cinder pile as to comply with visibility concerns from residents, he added.  

Stacy Barnes, who lives directly across from the property in question, said that down the road, she worried the terms of use could change for the area, especially if and when new county officials take office.

"While I appreciate what (Pietrykowski) is trying to do, he can't guarantee us anything," she said.

To Barnes' concern, Henderson said he would like to see the land use restrictions - such as the easement access - included in the rezoning request.

The next City Plan Commission will be March 4 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.