Planning Commission discusses rezone request related to annexation

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By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Morgan County Planning Commission discussed an application requesting that the property at 0 Pennington Road be rezoned from the county’s Low Density Residential (R1) zoning to the city of Madison’s Estate Lot Residential (R) zoning. This application is tied in with a request from the applicant, Hallie Duan on behalf of Cotton Ginnery, LLC, that the property be annexed into the city of Madison. Mollie Bogle, Madison Planner, stated that Duan is requesting that the property be zoned R if the city decides in favor of annexation and that the property will be used to “meet greenspace requirements for 1080 Oil Mill Road,” which is also owned by the applicant. Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan said that the only development plans received by the city from the applicant show that the property will be used for greenspace. John McMahon, Commission member, asked Callahan why the property would need to be annexed if it is only going to serve as greenspace.

Callahan responded that the annexation request “is a city question” and that the Planning Commission was only being asked to look at the appropriateness of the rezoning request. Commission Member Joe Cardwell asked what the differences between R1 and R zoning districts are, and Morgan County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell stated that R is Madison’s zoning classification that is most closely related to the county’s R1 zoning. Callahan added that both have a 1.5-acre minimum lot size, and Cardwell pointed out that the property under question does not meet that minimum area. Jarrell indicated that the proposed zoning would not be unacceptable because it does not meet the lot requirement for its current R1 zoning.

Commission Chair Brian Lehman acknowledged that there would be a “huge financial investment” involved in rehabilitating the buildings at 1080 Oil Mill Road but was concerned by the lack of a development plan for the property under review. Callahan said that she could not speculate on what the applicant intends to do with the property other than what was indicated on the development plan that the city received, showing that the property would be used as greenspace. She also stated that the size of the property does not meet the city’s regulations for what would be considered a “buildable lot.” Cardwell wanted to make sure that the annexation request was completely outside of the purview of the Planning Commission and asked Jarrell to make sure that any motion on the matter during the Planning Commission’s regular meeting would not require mention of the annexation request. Jarrell said he would look into the matter to make sure that they would not need to address the annexation request in the least.

The commission also looked at a conditional use request for the construction of a 199-foot tall telecommunications tower at 110 Jeff Cook Road, Mansfield. The applicant, Verizon Wireless, intends to construct the tower to increase service for the area surrounding the Stanton Springs Industrial Park just outside of Morgan County’s borders. Jarrell said that the tower would be “right at the county line” and would help to fill in “scattered” service along I-20 in that area. He added in the staff report that the closest Verizon tower to the proposed location is 1.72 miles to the north, which is “too far north to provide the coverage needed along I-20 and at Baxter. “Baxter will need additional coverage for their site,” said Jarrell.

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