Draining and zoning: hot topics of concern for county planners

By Lesley Jenkins
Star staff

While they may seem like boring topics, zoning and drainage issues can lead to exciting debate among Carter Countians. During the monthly County Planning Commission meeting Tuesday, several citizens expressed adamant views about fairness in regard to property lines and water lines.
   Several citizens from Green Valley Lane came to the meeting to discuss zoning issues surrounding a tire store and the damage it is causing right now to other property owners. They said Freeman Taylor's store uses the street as an entrance and exit. Residents are also concerned that, since the area is designated as B-1 now, later on Taylor might want it changed to B-2, and, eventually, B-3.
   Residents also mentioned excess drainage from Freeman Taylor that is backing up into the lot at Pennington Auto Sales. According to the owner, Kenny Pennington, "the water drains right off the road onto my property." Chris Schuettler, county director of planning, said the excess drainage is caused due to Taylor's drain that is in violation and that should have already been repaired.
   Freeman Taylor submitted a zoning request amendment to the commission to add a tire store to a B-1 zone. Taylor addressed the commission and asked to move his amendment to the Zoning Board of Appeals, in order for the zoning board to give him a definition of B-1 use and whether or not a tire store falls into this zone or if it would be classified as a B-2 or B-3 zone.
   According to County Executive Dale Fair, Taylor has received a letter of citation for noncompliance for operating his business in the manner he is now. Schuettler urged Taylor to submit paperwork in order to appear before the appeals board as soon as possible, and he also suggested residents who are against the amendment to also appear before the board.
   According to David Moore, of the local planning office in Johnson City, Taylor is covering all bases when it comes to researching if he can use his land for a tire store. If the zoning board decides against him, Taylor will likely appeal to have the area rezoned.
   Dave Honeycutt raised another issue related to water runoff from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. The committee decided to contact Randy Music, airport chairman, and express concern about runoff around the expansion of the runway. Schuettler said the problem was caused by inadequate maintenance to the ditch line after expansion occurred.
   As a result, excess water is backing up into neighboring yards, where homeowners have been forced to use sump pumps to keep the water from damaging their homes. One resident said he has lived there for over 30 years and has never had to sump pump under his house until this year, which he attributed to the addition of the runway. The runway extension covers a piece of land once used as a catch basin for water, but now the water is forced into neighboring yards.
   In other business, Jerry Pearman gave a report about the progress of enforcing the county's new litter law. He updated the committee on violations that are being enforced and the cleanup of several areas. He also stated that he will not act on a call until he has received three complaints. "We don't want to put them in jail; we just want them to clean it up," Pearman said.