Zoning issue stalls auto garage development

By Thomas Wilson

   The issue of spot zoning forced a citizen to withdraw a rezoning request to accommodate his auto mechanics business development at Tuesday's Elizabethton Planning Commission meeting.
   "I can't find a way to help you," Michael Hughes of the state's Regional Planning Office told Larry Price, II. Price submitted a request asking the commission to rezone a .55-acre tract he owns near the Southside Road/Gap Creek Road intersection from R-1 residential to B-1 arterial business to accommodate an auto garage business.
   Hughes advised the board the area was surrounded with residential developments and zoning. The nearest business district lay almost to West G Street, according to the city's planning map. He also said the city had received two letters in opposition to the rezoning request.
   "We can't do it without rezoning more than this," Hughes said. "I can't recommend it for only one lot ... it is not good planning."
   Price said he had already constructed a building to house the business on the property prior to submitting the rezoning request. The tract was part of 3.5 acres.
   Price's father, Larry Price, Sr. told the board his son had built up a substantial clientele of Carter County customers working at an auto repair shop in Blountville.
   "He has worked 12 years outside of Carter County," Price, Sr. said, and added after the meeting, "two hundred people a week leave this county to take their cars to him."
   Spot zoning also presents potential legal ramifications if a commission votes to do it, according to attorney Charlton DeVault who represented the commission at the meeting. If one property owner receives rezoning approval, the commission would have to contend with rezoning requests submitted by any citizen based on such a decision.
   "Looking at this request as it is would be spot zoning," DeVault told the commission.
   However, both Hughes and DeVault added that the proposed Gap Creek Road highway expansion project could change the shape of land use and zoning around the road in the future.
   "A change of circumstances down the road may change all this," DeVault said.
   Price withdrew the request upon a recommendation by Planning Commission Chairman Haynes Elliott who cited spot zoning prohibition the board faced. Hughes and commission members were sympathetic to Price's plight.
   In other business, the commission gave final approval of a subdivision plan submitted by Glenn Hyder. The subdivision is located off Riverview Road and calls for three lots of development.