On Monday evening, the East Ridge Planning Commission rejected the proposal of a businessman to rezone the property where the old bowling alley is on Ringgold Road to turn it into a warehouse.
“The last thing we need on that end of Ringgold Road is a storage facility,” said David Bostain, one of about a dozen citizens attending the regular monthly meeting of the board. “There should be some other way to benefit the citizens other than storage units.”
Local businessman Pryor Bacon had applied to have the property at 3636 Ringgold Road rezoned from Commercial District (C-2) to Warehouse and Wholesale District (M-3). His contractor, Mike Croxall, said that the intention was to utilize the large building with 350 feet of road frontage as an indoor warehouse. The handful of other businesses on the property would remain, with Bacon seeking to utilize the city’s facade grant improvement program. In addition, the massive parking lot would be repaved.
Kenny Custer, the city’s Chief Building Official, told the planning commission that the 8.2 acre property had no re-zoning history. The building being utilized as a warehouse would be compatible with other nearby land uses. His only concern was exterior lighting from the building possibly intruding on nearby homeowners.
Board member Casey Tuggle pointed out that the city is moving forward with long-term plans to upgrade Ringgold Road in the area with streetscaping and installing new stormwater infrastructure. This project is an effort to attract more retail businesses to the central commercial district, enhancing sales tax revenues.
Custer said that he has met with Bacon and discussed the idea of building a mixed-use development that may include retail stores and housing. Custer told the board that it was not part of Bacon’s plan for this project.
Board Chairman Mike Chauncey said that he wasn’t at all “excited” about the property being utilized as a warehouse. He said that East Ridge citizens would like to see something on the property that they could be proud of. Chauncey said he would like to see a feasibility study done relative to a higher use of the property.
“I don’t think this is the direction that East Ridge is heading,” he said.
The board voted 4-1 to deny the rezoning request with Ron Renegar being the only affirmative vote.
The board approved the rezoning of property at 3623 Fountain Avenue from R-1 Residential to R-3 Apartment District. The owners of Sweet Bay LLC are in the process of renovating the aging facility. Two of the buildings have been rehabilitated and are currently being rented.
Croxall, who is also the contractor for this project, told the board that the owners are getting financing to continue the upgrades. He said that an architect is working on a full set of plans to make “a nice place for residents.”
Lesley Bostain, a resident of the area, asked the board if the new apartments would be low income housing? Croxall said the new building would be constructed to a higher standard and the owners would demand relatively high rents for the apartments.
Bostain pressed, asking if the apartment owners could participate in the federal government’s Section 8 Housing program?
Tuggle said that in new apartment construction the owners don’t go in with the intention of qualifying for Section 8 Housing.
“I’m not saying they won’t,” he said. “It’s just wouldn’t be logical.
“(Section 8) is not something the planning commission can control,” Tuggle continued. “It is a federal program that is between the landlord and the government.”
The board voted 4-1 to rezone the property, with Larry Sewell voting against the proposal.
“We’ve got too many apartments in the city,” Sewell noted. “I’m not for any more apartment complexes.”
The board denied a request to rezone property from R-1 to R-3 Residential Apartment District at 12 Sheridan Road. The owner, Finley Wright, wanted to renovate the large home and split it up into apartments. Wright asked for the same property to be rezoned last year and was denied.
The vote to deny was unanimous.