The Trousdale County Planning Commission kicked off its Monday night meeting at the Trousdale County Courthouse with an intense discussion on public notice signs regarding properties being rezoned.
The signs are meant to keep the public informed of the rezoning of land, which may affect neighboring property owners.
Currently, the county has stopped posting public notice signs for the rezoning of properties, but instead has put notices in the paper, on social media, and on the county website. This decision was as a result of landscapers destroying the signs when the county was mowing the shoulders of county-maintained roadways where the signs were posted, thus driving up the cost of signage.
However, not all county officials were aware of this change.
“We have stopped putting notice signs in front of properties that were to be up for rezoning,” Trousdale County Planning Commission Chairman John Kerr said. “I was not aware of that.”
According to Trousdale County Building, Codes, and Zoning Enforcement Officer Sam Edwards, that is not a violation of any state or county ordinance, as public notice signs are not required to be posted.
“We actually got in to what are the requirements for public notice,” Edwards said. “In public notice, yard signs are not mentioned in state rules or county rules. There is only one location in all of the county ordinances that mentions a sign, and that’s for an outdoor gun range. So, signs are not required.”
But not all county officials agree with Edwards’ decision to discontinue the signs.
“I think we’re covered by state law as a minimum standard (by not posting signs),” Kerr said. “I’m big on transparency. My personal opinion is that people in my neighborhood don’t get up on Monday and say, ‘Let me check that (county) website. They might be trying to stick an apartment complex on us.’ In that type of thing, people just don’t think that way. Now if they see a sign, they typically notice something like that.”
Trousdale County Planning Commission member Thomas Harper added, “In the past, we did put those (signs) out. It seems that it worked very well. I think it would be more transparent if we did put them out.”
The planning commission has previously addressed the matter of rezoning signs, in addition to codes and zoning issues, as they have come to the forefront multiple times over the past several months. The county has experienced quite a bit of new construction due to growth and has faced codes and zoning questions regarding the proposed Hunters Point Quarry.
However, Trousdale County Planning Commission Vice-Chairman David Thomas offered possible solutions to the committee concerning the matter.
“I was reading through (a Cheatham County ordinance), and it sets up a pretty nice situation as far as covering this (matter),” said Thomas. “It requires (the county) to send out letters to every adjoining property through certified mail, making two attempts. It would require that the sign expense be put into the fee for rezoning. So, the person getting the rezoning done actually pays for the sign. It more than covers us with the state, and there’s no way you could say, if you’re a neighbor of a property that is getting rezoned, that you didn’t know.”
The planning commission agreed to address the issue in more detail as a part of next month’s agenda.
If passed by the planning commission, the matter would be sent to the county commission for further discussion.