Commission OKs rezoning for landscaping, business on 441 Bypass, tennis court lights

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By Nick Nunn

Staff Writer

During the July 25 meeting of the Morgan County Planning Commission, the commission voted unanimously to rezone a 1.88 acre plot of land at the intersection of Bethany Road and the Highway 411 bypass in Madison to General Commercial (C2), and grant a conditional use permit to operate a landscape supply and nursery business on the rezoned property.

Todd Peaster represented Ryan Taylor, the owner of the property, during the Planning Commission hearing.

“It’s a well-suited site,” said Peaster about the property where the proposed business will be located.

The current building plans indicate that the property will include a 16 foot by 24 foot wood structure, which will house the few inside goods that the business will sell.

A layout of the proposed build showed the location of many of the goods the business intends to offer. Bulk materials and nursery stock will be located behind the proposed building, while a plant storage display will line the edge of the property along Highway 441.

Also, the plans indicate that the business will have two entrance/exits, which will be located on the Highway 441 bypass and Bethany Road, with a paved path connecting the two entrances to allow for “even flow through the parking area,” said Peaster.

The entryway on the Highway 441 bypass is at a current Department of Transportation (DOT) curb cut. Peaster stated that they are still waiting to hear back from the DOT regarding any changes the DOT may make regarding the location of the curb cut.

According to Peaster, the DOT may decide to change the location of the curb cut slightly or extend the right turn lane onto Bethany Road from the Highway 441 bypass, since traffic going in and out of the proposed business will affect the flow of traffic in that area.

There was concern during discussion that semi-trailer truck drivers would attempt to exit the proposed business onto the Highway 441 bypass and then immediately attempt to make a u-turn at the intersection of Highway 441 and Bethany Road to turn southward and that such a maneuver would disrupt traffic on Highway 441.

Although a proposal for posting a “no exit” sign at the Highway 441 entrance of the business was made, the commission made no decision to restrict traffic on the property before the vote. The conditional use permit was unanimously approved at the Morgan County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

The commission unanimously approved a revised amendment to the City of Madison’s tennis court illumination in residential areas ordinance, which it had tabled in an earlier meeting.

The amendment, as approved by the Planning Commission, contained changes stating that tennis court lighting will only be approved on areas of land containing 3 acres or more, the lights must be turned off by 10 p.m., matching Madison’s 10 p.m. noise ordinance, and approval will be conditional use only.

Additional requirements regarding tennis court illuminations stipulate that no structure containing more than two courts may be lit, and that lighting structures must be black or dark colored, 50 feet from property lines, no more than 20 feet tall, and lights must be shielded to prevent glare from reaching neighboring properties.

“I have no problem with any of it,” said Ben Whidham, attorney for Von and Christy Friesen, who originally proposed the amendment.

A setback variance request at 1400 North Fifth Street, which would reduce the setback from 75 feet to 30 feet was approved by the commission unanimously.

The petitioner intends to build a 50 foot by 100 foot metal building 30 feet from North Fifth Street. The building will be used for vehicle storage, as will the area behind the proposed building. The commission also approved a conditional use permit to Swords United Methodist Church, at 1401 Swords Road in Buckhead, for a temporary fellowship hall.

The proposed building, which measures 24 feet by 36 feet, will be located 20 feet behind the church. Swords United Methodist Church will be leasing the building for two years, during which time they hope to be able to raise enough money to build a permanent fellowship hall.

“The church is really struggling right now,” said Josh Wheat, representing Swords United Methodist Church. “Membership is really low.” The conditional use permit was unanimously approved at Tuesday’s Morgan County Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

What is a setback? A setback is the legal distance from a curb, property line or structure from which building is prohibited. These building restrictions are imposed by local governments through ordinances and building codes. Setbacks establish clear rules for landowners in the interest of public safety, privacy, environmental or traffic concerns. A variance grants an exception to a landowner who wants to build within the setback margin.

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