The East Ridge Planning Commission met Monday night at City Hall with new Chairman Mike Chauncey taking over for Mayor Brent Lambert who stepped aside for the second time in three months.
Lambert, who has been the chairman of the commission since its inception six years ago, resigned his chairmanship and appointed Casey Tuggle on November 6. Prior to the board’s next meeting the City Attorney realized that there was no provision in the city code for the mayor to step aside and designate a replacement. In recent meetings, the East Ridge City Council amended the ordinance allowing the mayor to designate a person to serve in his stead.
At the beginning of Monday’s meeting, Lambert briefly chaired the meeting, once again resigned as chair and then appointed Tuggle to the board. Councilman Larry Sewell, the planning commission’s Vice Chairman, then took over the meeting. The board quickly voted to name Chauncey its new chairman and elected Ron Renegar as vice chairman. Both men are real estate agents in the area.
The board then got down to business at hand. It rezoned a house on Kingwood Drive from commercial to residential. Kenny Custer, the city’s Director of Community Services, explained that the house, which has always been a residence, was being sold. More than 20 years ago in a sweeping move city officials zoned a number of residential areas close to Ringgold Road as commercial. The Kingwood Drive home is in the process of being sold and banks have balked at giving loans to people buying properties that are not zoned properly.
The board granted a variance to Bharati Desai for a private road off Frawley Road. Custer explained that Desai is building 19 townhomes in a gated community and the road gives access to the development. The road, he said, is designed to specifications.
The planning commission approved changes to architectural design standards. Custer said it was the city’s desire for residential areas to “keep the same character,” in terms of size and height of houses where neighborhoods are almost totally built out.
Custer gave an example of trendy “tiny homes,” typically less than 500 square-feet, being built in a neighborhood of existing 2,000 square-foot structures. A builder could apply for a variance that would be considered by the planning commission and the city council, he said.
The planning commission gave the go ahead for all commercial signs to come under the authority of the East Ridge City Council. Currently, Custer said, any variance dealing with off-premise signs – those that are not on the property of the business being advertised – are heard by the city council. On premise signs are regulated by the planning commission. Custer wanted both types of commercial signs to fall under the purview of the city council.
The board approved plats for Garland Estates, the gated townhouse community that Desai intends to build off Frawley Road.