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Despite planning and zoning’s recommendation, commission says no to Goodlett’s rezoning request

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By Shannon Brock

The Taylorsville City Commission denied a zone change request last Thursday during a special meeting, citing issues with the properties’ location in relation to upcoming construction projects as well as the owner’s development plan.
Stephen L. Goodlett, who owns the properties located at 408 and 410 Garrard Street, requested that those properties be granted a zone change from R-2, multi-family residential, to B-2, commercial.
The lots are adjacent to each other, with each one containing a house.
In his application, submitted to the Taylorsville-Spencer County Joint Planning and Zoning Commission, Goodlett said he planned to continue renting one of the houses to its current resident and hoped to remodel the other house for use as an office.
Presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 1, Goodlett’s request was met with no opposition and passed by vote of the commission that night.
The Planning and Zoning meeting minutes from Aug. 1 read, “Motion was made by Commissioner [Anthony] Travis and seconded by Commissioner [Paul] Daugherty to recommend the application of Stephen L. Goodlett to the City Commission as requested due to the following finding of fact: The request falls within the recommendation of the Comprehensive Plan and fits with current zonings and there was no opposition. Motion carried.”
Planning and Zoning Administrator Julie Sweazy told The Spencer Magnet on Friday that would indicate the motion passed unanimously. If there is opposition from commissioners, the opposing votes are typically noted, Sweazy said.
However, when brought before the City Commission on Sept. 3 for first reading — which does not require a vote — city commissioners immediately voiced some concern.
The commission called into question the properties’ proximity to the levee and other “unknowns,” including future plans for a historical district.
“What about the historical district?” Mayor Don Pay asked at the September meeting. “Why would we change the zone before we know about the historical district?”
City Attorney John Dudley Dale, who is also the Planning and Zoning Commission attorney, reminded the commission that it could not reject the request without reason.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the subject was not brought before the City Commission for second reading until Thursday — the zone change request was the lone item on a special meeting agenda.
Sweazy read the information from the Planning and Zoning meeting to the commissioners and advised them that if they took comment from anyone other than her or themselves, they would have to have a hearing on the issue and advertise it as such.
Commissioner Kathy Spears made a motion, based on the finding of fact of the Planning and Zoning Commission, that Goodlett’s request be granted. Commissioner Ellen Redmon seconded the motion.
During discussion, Commissioner Jack Proctor said that while he appreciated what the Goodletts have done for Taylorsville, he had concerns about the levee and whether the pending relocation of the Ky. 55 bridge would have any effect on the property.
“Do we assume any liability if the holding pond has to be expanded?” Proctor asked.
Pay pointed out that the property does adjoin the levee property, at which point Levee Commissioner Bobby Smith added that a piece of land including drainage from Houston Court to the pump house is deeded to the levee. Smith said he thought the levee commission, as an adjoining property owner, should have been notified of the request.
Dale said, in retrospect, the levee commission should have been notified.
Sweazy, as the Planning and Zoning representative, said she didn’t think the zoning of the property would have an effect on an upcoming construction project.
“I don’t think it’s going to matter how it’s zoned,” Sweazy said.
Pay then asked Goodlett’s attorney, Charlie Tichenor, if he had anything to say to the commission.
Tichenor pointed out procedure limited what he would say, but advised the commission that it was up against a Nov. 1 deadline and that the Planning and Zoning Commission had already established findings of fact.
The deadline Tichenor referenced is set by the rule that if no action is taken on the request by the City Commission within 90 days of the original request, the property owner’s request is automatically granted.
Tichenor told the commission that if it denied Goodlett’s request, it better have a good reason.
“My client is prepared to get [the] zoning however he has to,” Tichenor said.
Commissioner Ellen Redmon said that she was against the request initially, but after walking the property, she changed her mind.
Spears called for the vote.
Proctor, Pay and Commissioner Beverly Ingram voted no; Spears and Redmon voted yes. The motion failed.
“You’re going to have make findings of fact stating the reasons for denying it … something more than that you’re just against it,” Dale told the commission.
Pay asked Dale if he could put that together.
“Well, I think you need to state what those are,” Dale said. “I can’t make those up. I can put them in the findings of fact form, but I can’t state what the objections are to it.”
Ingram said that her problem, not just with this request, but with all zoning requests is that the commission doesn’t get to see a detailed enough plan.
“We should see what is going to be done,” Ingram said.
Sweazy pointed out that the commissioners should have received information about Goodlett’s plan in their packets.
“This is his plan,” Sweazy said, pointing again to Goodlett’s plan to leave one house as a rental property and renovate the other for use as an office.
The commission decided that its findings of fact were lack of evidence regarding the effect on the floodwall, the bridge and the development plan.
Neither Goodlett nor Tichenor was pleased with the city’s decision. Tichenor said his client would be contemplating his next step.
“We’ll have to evaluate that,” Tichenor said, adding that there is an appeals process in Circuit Court and that Goodlett would have to decide whether he wanted to proceed in that way.
Contacted on Friday, Proctor expanded on his position regarding Goodlett’s request.
The main concern is the retention basin, Proctor said. That basin is currently filled with silt and will have to be cleaned out or expanded, he said. Proctor also said a large pipe, which carries water from that end of the levee all the way across town to near the Stallions football field, runs underneath Goodlett’s property and may have to be disturbed or replaced in the levee certification process.
“Whether he builds a skyscraper or storage units, I have an objection to infringing on that property until that thing gets settled,” Proctor said.
Proctor said he doesn’t want to see someone build something —  be it skyscraper or storage unit — just to be told to take half of it down because of construction on the levee.
As far as the bridge project, the most recent conversations indicate the bridge will be built on the opposite side of Ky. 55 from Goodlett’s property, but Proctor said he is concerned the construction of the bridge will interfere with a culvert, which would indirectly interfere with the retention basin.
Friday afternoon, Pay said his primary concern with the request is also the levee.
“I was initially concerned about the bridge, but the bridge construction, that’s something that’s going to affect the other side,” Pay said.
“My understanding, from the [levee] commissioners, is that right in that area is the pipe that moves water from one side of the city all the way over to the other side,” Pay said.
Pay said he had no issue with the plan, as it was presented, by Goodlett.
“I think [the plans are] a great idea and an asset to the city, as far as I know what they are,” he said.
“But how is this going to affect what work needs to be done? We don’t know.”
Ingram said Friday afternoon that the lack of a detailed plan is still her main concern for this zoning request and for others in the future. Asked why she chose this request to bring up the planning issue, Ingram said it is because she has been working more closely with the Planning and Zoning Commission in recent months as the city and county are working together to redo the zoning regulations.
“I’ve always felt that we need more of plan,” Ingram said. “Like with development plans of a new subdivision, they have a plan and there are ways and conditions you have to put them in.”
Spears, however, says she stands by her motion based on the findings of fact of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“Everything around it is B-2,” Spears said Friday afternoon. “The whole block, that’s B-2. It’s not spot-zoned. That shows there was no problem with it to me.”
As for concerns with the retention basis, Spears said it was her understanding that Goodlett was going to clean that area up.
Spears said she is also under the understanding that the proposed bridge won’t be going anywhere near Goodlett’s property.
Redmon, who said she was originally against granting the zone change, said on Tuesday morning that after walking the property, she changed her mind.
“I walked the property twice,” she said. “It is hellacious back there, grown up in the catch basins. I’ve spoken with Stevie and he has no intentions of putting storage units there. Everything there is B-2 anyway. These properties need to be cleaned up.”
Redmon said she couldn’t base her decision on unknowns or pending projects.
“I can’t base my opinion on something that might happen in the future,” Redmon said. “If we’re worried about the possibility of the bridge or the drainage getting fixed on Houston Court — since 1984, we’ve been waiting for drainage to be fixed in Houston Court. We shouldn’t hinder someone wanting to better the property.”
And Goodlett’s plans would benefit the community, she said.
“It’s feasible,” she said. “After I walked around and looked at it, it’s a better asset to the community for him to be able to clean it up. I really think they’re not doing him justice.”
Redmon said she believes, had Goodlett been granted the zoning change, his work on the property would have benefited the effort to certify the levee, not hinder it.
“You cannot put personal feelings into making a decision for the community,” she said.