The matter of housing density once again emerged as a contentious issue during the latest Lebanon City Council meeting on Tuesday evening.

This time, the scope was pointed at a potential rezoning to make way for a development near Carver Lane. Prior to the public hearing, the item was actually dropped from the meeting’s agenda to be revisited at a later date.

Despite the deferral, those who came to city hall to express their concerns about the townhome development still took the podium to air those grievances.

Former Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash said that he felt like the area near Carver Lane already had a sufficient number of town homes, remarking, “more than any other place in the city.”

Many of the comments seemed centered around a deviation from a long-term development plan passed by the city earlier this year.

“What happened to the future land use plan the city passed six months ago,” asked Wayne Oakley, a Lebanon-based architect and resident of this neighborhood. “We’re just asking you to do what you said you would do with that plan.”

Rezoning proved to be the crux of the voices from the crowd. One complainant, James Barlow, said that he lives inside Farmington Woods, a neighborhood that would be impacted by the development of the townhomes.

“We’re not against development ... we’re against rezoning,” Barlow said.

The matter even stirred Wilson County Commissioner Rusty Keith to get up and speak out against the rezoning. His take was that infrastructure improvements should come first before any new development.

Once the microphones returned to the councilors, they sought to set the record straight about this development and the general development approval process.

“People think we are the only ones voting on this, but it goes through several stages to get here,” said councilor Camille Burdine.

Burdine was referring to the Lebanon Planning Commission process of recommending or not recommending a proposed development. In this case, the planning commission had voted unanimously to recommend denial.

Burdine also noted how that many of the aggrieved had shared their feedback and then left. She encouraged those with concerns for the city to come to the planning commission meetings and learn the process through which projects like these are either approved or denied.

“I didn’t understand how a lot of this stuff works either until I joined the city council,” said councilor Jeni Lind Brinkman, confirming Burdine’s point that civic engagement isn’t a one-way street.

Other city news

The second reading of an ordinance that would remove automotive repair and cleaning from allowed uses to the conditional uses in the general commercial zoned district also passed.

“We all know we have enough car washes as it is,” Burdine said.

This measure had been championed by Burdine after the market for these businesses got, in her words, out of control.

Another move by the city established a demolition moratorium on structures in areas being considered for historic preservation districts and landmarks. This bill was proposed by Lebanon Mayor Rick Bell and the chairman of the historic preservation commission, John Foutch.

Bell explained during the meeting that it would not be a permanent moratorium but that it would move to protect such properties or landmarks under consideration for preservation until it could be determined if such measures were warranted.

The demolition of a site on the town’s historic driving tour in September sparked an uproar. When the Nathan Green House on West Main was torn down, organizations like Historic Lebanon and the city’s historic preservation commission began working with the city to establish this protective barrier for houses deemed historically significant.

Both measures passed with full council approval.

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