The Lebanon Planning Commission approved a request to streamline its approval process for sites impacted by the March 3 tornado at an remotely conducted meeting Tuesday.

If the Lebanon City Council later approves the measure later this month, those sites can be approved directly by the city’s Planning Department instead of going before the commission. However, they would need to be compliant with previous building standards or closer to current design standards.

That move could impact nearly 800 properties within city limits, based on the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s assessment. Their count places Lebanon’s tornado damages at 102 commercial buildings, 20 public buildings and 656 residential buildings.

“We haven’t received anything so far in terms of site plans because the deadline is tomorrow,” city planner Seth Harrison said. “So at this time we haven’t received any items for repair, because they were waiting to determine how everything was going to happen.”

Commissioners also granted preliminary plat approval to KFC Lebanon Subdivision, a 47-lot subdivision on South Maple Street that would be zoned for medium density residential use. Discussion centered on a depression in the ground on the property.

“I’m looking at the resubmitted plat, and there’s a driveway or road through that great big giant sinkhole where it ties in to South Maple,” Lebanon Engineering Director Regina Santana said. “That wasn’t there when we reviewed it the first time. So there’s a good chance that that’s not going to work on our end.”

Project contact Barry Cleveland, a surveyor and engineer with DBS & Associates Engineering, said his team is willing to work with city officials on the site plan.

“The connection at Maple can be adjusted to accommodate the depressed area,” he said in a statement to planning staff sent during the meeting. “If we align this with the intersection, the larger sinkhole will remain open but improved to maximize the stormwater detention for the subdivision.”

Because of Cleveland’s comments and the preliminary phase of the project, the commission voted to approve the item.

“If that road doesn’t work for us, we’ll have to have them take that off, but I’m not opposed to you all proceeding with it,” Santana told the commission. “Just to know there are sinkhole issues and that’s something we’re going to look hard at on our end, just because of the drainage in this whole entire area.”

In addition, the commission granted site plan approval for a fuel center expansion at the Kroger on 1418 W. Main St., subject to a future landscaping plan. The company plans to offer diesel fuel at five of the pumps, and the total expansion measures approximately 12.85 acres

The Lebanon Planning Commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on April 28, and may be conducted remotely as a precaution against COVID-19.

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