Commission denies rezoning for Happy Valley Credit Union expansion

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Elizabethton Planning Commission denied a request to rezone an East C Street property to designate it as a business property instead of a residential property.
   The rezoning denial essentially blocked a plan by the Happy Valley Credit Union to purchase the property for expansion of parking and ATM services.
   The property considered for rezoning was 215 East C Street, owned by Martin Meredith. The request sought to rezone the property from R-2 residential to B-2 arterial business.
   "The credit union is seeking to purchase this property," Regina Shepherd, the attorney representing the HVCU told the commission. "It is contingent on this property being rezoned to facilitate the relocation of an ATM and a parking lot."
   Credit union representative Christina Bartz said the business had no further room to expand since opening its doors in the early 1990s. She said the credit union needed the new property for additional parking and to provide customers access to the ATM.
   "We did have adequate parking at that time, but we've grown," she told the commission.
   The property in question is located near several residences. However, those residences are surrounded by tracts zoned for business use on C Street and Broad Street.
   Michael Hughes of the state's Regional Planning Office said the best option would be to rezone several tracts west of C Street to include six lots. He also said that while "spot zoning" of one property tract was not wise planning, state law did not prohibit such zoning.
   "It is not good planning," said Hughes, "but it's not illegal."
   City Planning Director David Ornduff said it had long been planning department policy not to recommend any rezoning requests if adjoining property owners were opposed to the rezoning.
   Sid Smithdeal, one of two residents in the 200 block of C Street at the meeting, voiced his opposition to the rezoning saying he felt the business had enough room on their side of C Street to expand.
   Commissioner Nancy Alsup said that while she probably wouldn't want a parking lot dropped near her residence either, she felt as a member of the City Council it was important to allow businesses to serve their customers.
   Commissioner Jack Cole disagreed.
   "I can't believe it is the best interest of the city to put an ATM in someone's side yard," he said.
   Alsup moved to approve the rezoning and received a second from Victor Deloach. The motion was defeated with commissioners Cole, Manual Bandarra, Howard Matherly, and Chairman Haynes Elliott voting no.
   After the vote, Bartz said the zoning request would be appealed.
   "There is no place else for us to go but across the street," she said. "And I can't believe that would hurt those property owners."
   The city board of appeals voted 6-0 to approve a variance request made by Dana Campbell for side and rear yard set-backs to expand his A to Z Self Storage business on the Milligan Highway.
   The variance requested the expansion be permitted to have a 9-foot side yard set-back and a 19- foot rear set-back from the adjoining property.