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Planners disagree about paving ordinance
Mar 26, 2004 12:00 am
Should Lebanon City councilors elect to amend the city's paving ordinance next month, it will be in contrast to a recommendation issued by the Lebanon Planning Commission on Tuesday night.
In February, Council voted on first reading to change the paving ordinance – a law that had hindered Canada-based Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers' drive to establish an auction yard off Highway 109 – to allow storage parking areas to remain unpaved. The auctioneering company had maintained its heavy equipment would ultimately destroy a paved parking lot and agreed to abide by the amended ordinance, which would still require visitor parking lots and trailways to storage areas to be paved.
The ordinance then appeared before Lebanon planners at their meeting last night, where commission member Jan Mangrum led the charge against changing city law.
"It appears to me that we're making a change for one person, and that is Ritchie Bros.," Mangrum said.
Mangrum, as well as other commissioners and residents who live near the proposed auction yard, also questioned the Council's decision to suspend the rules at its March 16 meeting and rezone the 75-acre parcel to a light industrial district.
"They caught us not there," nearby property owner Larry Binion, who visited a Ritchie Bros. auction site in Georgia with some planners last year, told commissioners Tuesday. "If you change this ordinance … we all feel like we don't really matter any more."
Mangrum agreed, noting she did not believe the ordinance should be changed. She added, however, that she felt powerless due to the fact that councilors can still approve the amended ordinance on second reading regardless of the planning commission's recommendation.
Lebanon Mayor Don Fox explained he also felt area residents weren't given a chance to combat the rezoning due to the suspension of the rules to consider it at the Council's March 16 meeting.
"I think that should be illegal," he said. " … Obviously, people in the community don't matter as much as an investor that resides out of the state. Anybody that says this ordinance is not driven by a particular special interest is not telling the truth."
Some city councilors have maintained in recent weeks that the proposed changes to the paving ordinance are not the direct result of the Ritchie Bros. request, noting inadequacies in the ordinance were simply brought to light during the company's four-year-long quest to locate in Lebanon.
Ward 4 Councilor Joe Hayes – a member of the planning commission who cast the lone vote against rezoning the property at the March 16 meeting – disagreed.
"This ain't the only time I've got run over by the City Council," Hayes declared before commenting on some councilors' mayoral aspirations. "And, do you think I'd support one of them to be mayor of the City of Lebanon when they can't even represent their own citizens?"
"This opens up a Pandora's Box. We do it for a special interest group, then we've opened up the box for everybody else," Mangrum added.
Planning commissioner Jeff Hallums was the sole planner who did not express displeasure with the request to amend the ordinance, noting he believed the city's current laws did not allow any heavy equipment sales facilities unless the ordinance was amended.
"If we have a business that wants to come in and operate bulldozers (and other equipment), they'd have to locate in the county," Hallums said. " … We won't have any construction-type companies in the city because we don't have a zone for them … We don't have anything that would say to a construction company that they can open up in the City of Lebanon."
Hallums added he believed Ritchie Bros. statement that it would not be feasible to repeatedly operate heavy equipment on pavement without ultimately destroying the paved areas.
Hayes disagreed, explaining a heavy equipment rental business currently operates in the Eastgate Business Park under the existing paving ordinance.
"I'm just trying to be objective," Hallums remarked. "I think some of us are getting emotional."
"Yeah, I'm getting emotional," Hayes replied, adding he and Ward 4 residents have been treated unfairly throughout the process.
Mangrum concluded the discussion by noting councilors had not approached Hayes or others who have visited Ritchie Bros. auction yards for input on the company's operations.
"They're just not going to be good for this city. I think it's just being done for one person … and I don't think it's the right thing to do," Mangrum said before making a motion to recommend Council not approve the amended ordinance.
Mangrum's motion was approved 5-1 with Hallums voting in opposition.
In other business, the Commission unanimously approved:
· a site plan for a crematorium to be constructed at Sellars Funeral Home on Baddour Parkway.
· a site plan for parking area improvements at Cumberland University.
· a site plan for Chili's Grill & Bar, which is to be located in the Lebanon Marketplace off South Hartmann Drive.