The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners decided to not go forward with a zoning ordinance on Lebanon Road at a work session Monday, and commissioners also asked the Planning & Zoning Department for further recommendations on commercial zoning after discussing potential changes.
The decisions were meant to address improvements to the Lebanon Road area
Vice Mayor and District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice deferred a zoning ordinance amendment on adding a variety of businesses to Lebanon Road for 30 days three weeks ago at a commission meeting.
Justice stated that because there were 23 automotive-related businesses, including body shops, in less than a mile of this district, he wanted the city to stop the influx of these businesses there and incorporate them into other areas of Mt. Juliet.
Residents Mark Lineberry and Bill Robinson shared Justice’s sentiment by suggesting the city should relax some of the standards and codes on Lebanon Road. They believed this would make it less costly for them to develop additional properties.
“Maybe this could let us offer an alternative where we could come up with some mom-and-pop businesses,” said Lineberry. “A local coffee shop cannot afford to pay the $40 a (square) foot for rent at Providence Parkway, which gives us something to do to provide these types of businesses on the north side of the city.”
Justice said the city does not necessarily have to redo the zoning ordinance, yet it can come up with conditions to allow certain businesses in Lebanon Road.
He offered an example of car washes in this area because he was not fond of having more of them there.
District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Milele worried that if the city comes up with a proposal to prevent the influx of automotive-based businesses on Lebanon Road, it will not create any competition for existing car washes.
Mayor James Maness asserted there is an actual strategy of being close to competition as possible for automotive-related businesses on Lebanon Road. Maness agreed with Justice on Lebanon Road’s cosmetic issues but disagreed with him on letting these issues prompt a change in zoning.
“I suspect those businesses in this street are going to be right there where they are at currently, and they are never going to move,” said Maness. “They probably buy the buildings there if they had the opportunity. Because they are literally setting up a monopoly in Mt. Juliet, it is an unintended consequence of government meddling.”
Maness acknowledged that while the city has prevented more automotive-based businesses from coming in, they have created a condition in which these businesses are never going to leave.