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Lebanon clears air on zoning names, creates historic district

Camille Burdine

Do Lebanon’s new zoning designations create more confusion than they solve?

At least one resident thinks so.

The Lebanon City Council held a public hearing prior to its regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday at Lebanon City Hall to receive comments about four measures it prepared to vote on.

An ordinance to amend the future land use plan, by changing the naming convention of residential land uses, was intended to simplify the process, according to Lebanon Planning Director Paul Corder.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of confusion about how they are currently named, which is the ‘suburban’ and ‘low-density,’ so we have just changed it to list the number of units (permitted) per acre,” Corder said.

The new zones reflect the number of units per acre permitted in each zone. For example, the old suburban low-density district will now be called residential 2 units per acre. In its abbreviated format, that district will be referred to as FLH2.

“We have FL for ‘Future land use,’ and H stands for ‘housing,’ and then, the number is how many units per acre,” Corder said.

Derek Dodson, of Chapman Drive, aired concern that the city was setting itself up for trouble down the road by not distinguishing between suburban and urban districts.

Previous designations had two separate zonings for suburban low-density and low-density. Now it’s more cut and dry, with zones strictly indicating permitted units per acre.

“Maybe they should be designated to stand out from the first two, something to delineate them from the others,” said Dodson.

Dodson also worried that these zones weren’t representative of Middle Tennessee.

“We all know, living in Lebanon, Tennessee, that eight units on an acre is not medium density,” Dodson said. “That should be high density.”

Corder told the council, “We are getting rid of the designations, suburban and that type. We are asking to change the name, not using suburban, low density, high density, medium density, but instead use just the number of units. Then, it doesn’t matter if it’s high, medium or low.”

The city council voted to approve the ordinance but not before questions from councilor Camille Burdine.

“Where are we with the zoning committee, and where are we with the architectural review committee,” Burdine said. “We had talked about that regarding our Hartmann Drive Gateway.”

Corder replied that the committee has been meeting.

“We’ve presented to them some of the typical zoning districts and some of the more difficult ones we want to address,” Corder said. “Consultants are shooting for (next week) to have a draft of the zoning district that would match the future land use plan.”

At that point, the city council would have a “fairly robust document by that point,” according to Corder. He also said that with that in hand, the city can go into working on the details of the zoning code.

“The architectural review is (also) something we have been talking about,” Corder said. “It would need to go with the zoning code once we adopt the whole thing.”

Burdine said on Wednesday that when the city was crafting its comprehensive plan for growth and development, a review committee was appointed to draft an outline for how the plan would be implemented.

“Two things came out of that ... the zoning committee and the architectural committee,” Burdine said.

The zoning committee began meeting earlier in the year and is chaired by Kim Parks of Historic Lebanon, a preservation non-profit.

“It’s a community-based group that works with Corder and mayor Rick Bell to implement new zoning and take a deeper dive into that,” said Burdine.

The architectural review committee has not officially been formed but rather explored. In other areas, where these review committees exist, they are made up of architects and engineers and are paid through impact fees collected from developers.

Burdine said that she believes a committee with that expertise could really help with ensuring that the city gets what it wants as far as future development is concerned.

Lebanon creates historic district

The council also approved the second reading of an ordinance to designate a local historic district within the city. Its passage was championed by one happy homeowner within the newly created district.

Kathy Adams lives at 616 West Main St. in Lebanon. Knowing her home will be protected by preservation efforts was a Christmas gift she couldn’t have expected until only recently.

“I might cry thinking that my house is going to get into a historic zoning district,” Adams told the city council. “I did not ever think this would happen.”

It’s a move that Adams and colleagues had wished to see for a while.

“When we started this process of forming the historic preservation commission, there were houses that had been torn down,” Adams said. “There is a house that has been built sideways. There is a commercial building on Gay street built with its rear to the street. All those things needed to be brought under some kind of control. The commission has helped the city to do that.”

Adams expressed appreciation for the city’s support in these efforts and mentioned that she was there Tuesday on behalf of her neighbors as well.

She also urged the council to continue working with the historic preservation commission.

“I know the commission is taking on a lot right now, looking at different properties and different ways to bring properties on West Main Street and other parts of the city into a historic district,” Adams said. “I hope you’re patient with them and understand their point of view in wanting this done.”

Up on the housetop ...

One Wilson County veteran’s Christmas came a little early this year after a nationwide home-improvement project brought her a whole new roof.

On Dec. 22, a crew from Old Hickory’s Tim Leeper Roofing installed a new roof for Shatena Cowan, a U.S. Army National Guard veteran. The project was part of the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project.

The Roof Deployment Project was established in 2016 by Owens Corning Roofing and its platinum contractors to identify, honor and help protect veterans by installing new roofs.

“When I found out, let me tell you, I couldn’t believe it,” a tearful Cowan said. “This kind of thing has never happened to me before. You see the different stuff people give to others, out of the goodness of their heart, but you just never think it could actually happen to you.

“I just feel so blessed and happy.”

Cowan was chosen because of her military service. She was in the Army National Guard for approximately 10 years.

The whole idea about providing a new roof for somebody came to a few members of the Tim Leeper Roofing company over dinner earlier this year.

“We wanted to give back to the community that has invested so much in us,” said Paul Olson, an estimator with the company and soon-to-be general manager. “As things progressed, we decided that we wanted to find a veteran in Wilson County.”

So, they established qualifications for the recipient.

“They needed to be honorably discharged, a veteran, all that stuff,” Olson said. “And, they needed to own the home.”

Olson got in touch with the local veterans service organization and established a list of individuals from Wilson County who might meet that criteria.

“Another estimator rode around and did initial inspection on the houses to see who really needed a roof,” wsaid Olson.

Once the search was narrowed down, they held a raffle, and Cowan’s home was chosen. Cowan was called up to the veterans museum, unsure of what the occasion was for. When she found out, she was nearly floored.

As someone who has traveled as far away as Saudi Arabia during her time with the National Guard, Cowan said that Tim Leeper’s act of generosity was unlike anything that’s ever happened to her.

“There’s a lot of good people here in Lebanon,” Cowan said. “Sometimes, when you go to the store, a good samaritan may offer to buy your groceries, but nothing like this.”

Excluding her time overseas, Cowan has lived in the house on Pharaoh Drive since she was 9 years old. Back then, the home was owned by her mother.

Now, Cowan lives there along with her son, Neo, and her sister, although her sister has been in the hospital for the past few months.

In October, when her sister became ill, it was another straw on a strained camel’s back. A couple of car accidents had limited their mobility, and now, the reality set in that her sister would need advanced medical treatment.

In light of that, Cowan remarked that the new roof couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It’s the best Christmas gift I could think of,” Cowan said. “It’s just a great feeling that someone, you don’t even know, would come and do something like that.”

Cowan spent Wednesday in the hospital visiting her sister, so she missed out on the roof installation. However, she knew they were finished when her motion-sensored home camera stopped beeping.

“By the time I got home, they had cleaned everything and even put my Christmas decorations back up,” said Cowan.

The delighted homeowner wished to extend a warm season’s greeting to the Leeper family.

“I hope his family has an amazing Christmas, because I will never forget what they did,” Cowan said.

County approves four planning commission appointments

Terry Ashe

Eric Thompson

The Wilson County Commission voted to approve multiple appointments to the county’s planning commission during a regular-scheduled meeting at the Wilson County Courthouse on Monday evening.

Officially, the commission voted to confirm Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto’s appointments. The four appointees include county commissioner Terry Ashe, Margaret Dixon, John Jewell and Eric Thompson.

Dixon is a real estate agent with Crye-Leike Realtors in the Mt. Juliet office. She is also a member of the board of directors for Southern Bank of Tennessee.

Thompson joined the planning commission in 2017, filling the unexpired term of Tommy Williams. Thompson has lived in Lebanon since 1990 and is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He began working for the Wilson County Vocation Center in 1974, which later became Prospect, Inc.

Jewell has been an organizer of the Watertown Jazz Festival for years in addition to being a former Watertown Fire Chief. He has previously served on the planning commission.

Ashe is a former Wilson County Sheriff and currently serves as a county commissioner representing District 12. He has previously served as part of the planning commission as well.

Each individual is appointed for a four-year term.

Oklahoma sixth-grader praised for heroism twice in one day

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — An Oklahoma sixth-grader was honored by law enforcement and school officials for his heroic actions not just once, but twice in the same day.

Earlier this month, Davyon Johnson used the Heimlich maneuver on a classmate choking on a bottle cap at his school. Later that same day, he helped a woman escape from a burning house, the Muskogee Phoenix reported.

Last week, Davyon was named an honorary member of the police and sheriff’s departments at the Muskogee Board of Education meeting, the newspaper reported.

“I felt good, excited,” Davyon said about the honor.

Principal Latricia Dawkins called Davyon a “dual hero” and said that the recognition couldn’t have happened to a better person.

“He is just a kind soul and well-liked by his peers and staff alike,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins recalled the incident that earned Davyon the honor. She said that a student was trying to fill his water bottle and loosen the cap with his mouth. The cap slipped into his throat, she said.

The choking student stumbled into a nearby classroom, where Davyon happened to be, Dawkins said.

“Davyon immediately sprinted over and did the Heimlich maneuver,” Dawkins said. “From the account of the witnesses, when he did it, the bottle cap popped out.”

Davyon demonstrated how he got behind the choking student, wrapped his arms around the student and “burped him, kind of.”

Davyon helped a woman evacuate her burning house later that day.

“It was a disabled lady, and she was walking out of her house,” Davyon said. “She was on her porch. But I thought, being a good citizen, I would cross and help her get into her truck and leave.”

He said that the back of the house was on fire, “but it eventually got to the front of the house.”

Davyon said that he learned to do the Heimlich maneuver on YouTube and said that it is a valuable procedure to learn.

“Just in case you’re in the situation I was in, you can know what to do,” Dayvon said.

Davyon’s mother, LaToya Johnson, said that she’s not surprised he behaved the way he did. She said that her brother, Wendell Johnson, is an emergency medical technician.

“I’m just a proud mom,” LaToya Johnson said.