The Lebanon City Council deferred action Tuesday on a controversial rezoning request that would see more than 200 acres of residential property on Tater Peeler Road and Cainsville Road rezoned as industrial.

Project developers requested the deferral, and may remove up to 40% of the property from the plan and request a specific plan (SP) zoning instead as a compromise with concerned citizens.

“I know we’ve flooded their emails, the neighbors have on Tater Peeler, over the last few weeks and months,” resident Maliea Oakley said. “We’ve been dealing with this since March … we just appreciate them taking time to hear us and to consider our concerns. We’re anxious to get this put behind us, and we’re anxious to see if we can come to some kind of new agreement.”

Oakley has spoken against the rezoning at multiple council meetings, citing a lack of information about the businesses eyeing the land and potential impact on property values. Approximately 20 families also attended a recent meeting with developers to show opposition.

Realtor Joe McKnight, who represents the property developer, estimated during a previous meeting that a facility would bring $90,000 a year in property taxes for the city.

“This is not going to be a salvage yard, a concrete plant or an asphalt plant,” he said. “This is likely to be a logistics area, big box distribution … and since COVID hit, we’ve had 40 million people rendered unemployed in this country. I would urge the city council to consider that.”

Multiple businesses are reportedly interested in the property, but they have not been publicly identified. An SP zoning would allow the city to set unique guidelines for how the land could be used.

Councilors were divided on the item at their last work session and debated the issue for more than an hour. Ward 3 Councilor Camille Burdine and Ward 5 Councilor Tick Bryan expressed support, while Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash and Ward 2 Councilor Fred Burton expressed opposition.

Ward 1 Councilor Joey Carmack and Ward 4 Councilor Chris Crowell said they supported an SP zoning for the property, and Ward 6 Councilor Jeni Lind Brinkman was absent for the work session.

The council’s next regular session meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on July 21.

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