City Okays Residential Uses in Central Business District

September 20, 2011
Dwayne Page

Residential apartments have shared space with commercial establishments in the central business district of Smithville for several years, but the Smithville zoning ordinance has apparently never been amended to legally provide for it.

To make the update, the Smithville aldermen Monday night approved an amendment on first reading updating a section of the zoning ordinance to provide for residential uses within the B-3 Commercial Zoning District.

Second and final reading passage will be scheduled following a public hearing at the next meeting on Monday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said "there is quite a bit of interest in some of the vacant buildings downtown being turned into residential units. Our zoning ordinance does not address that so we need an amendment to that. It has been passed by the planning commission".

The proposed ordinance reads as follows: "Now therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of Smithville, that the following sections shall be amended in the Smithville Zoning Ordinance:

Section 106.10.1
"After public notice and hearing, subject to appropriate safeguards and conditions, the Smithville Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) may permit construction of a new building or rehabilitation of an existing building in the Central Business District for Residential or Mixed Commercial-Residential Use. In reviewing applications for such uses or conversions of buildings, the Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the overall effect of the proposal to the area and surrounding properties so that there will not be a detrimental effect to the stability and viability of the Central Business District. In making this determination, this board must evaluate the availability of utilities, number of units proposed, city's capacity to respond effectively to emergencies, and availability of off-street parking".

Section 106.10.2
" The following conditions must also be met:
A. Submit site plan and floor plans for BZA review.

B. Provision of some off-street parking spaces for new residential construction that meets the parking requirements for the R-3 Residential Zoning District. Parking for existing structures being rehabilitated/converted to a residence shall be provided on public lots if none are available on site

C. Landscaping of the property if new residential construction

D. Minimum square footage of dwelling units of 650 square feet for one-bedroom unit, 900 square feet for a two-bedroom unit, 1100 square feet for a three-bedroom unit.

E. All new residential construction shall meet R-3 requirements on number of units and setbacks

F. Adherence to requirement of the 2006 International Residential Code and later amendments/updates."

In other business, Mayor Hendrixson said the city has been awarded an airport grant from the state in the amount of $61,000. The city's matching portion is $15,000. The funds have been used to purchase an 83 horsepower John Deere tractor, a 15 foot John Deere bushhog, a front end loader, and a zero turn commercial mower. He added that about seven thousand dollars will be left from the grant to purchase another commercial mower.

Meanwhile, Mayor Hendrixson reported that city officials may know by next month whether an application filed last year for a one million dollar sewer rehab disaster grant will be approved. "I went to an Upper Cumberland Development District meeting last week. We applied for the grant last year and we should hear from that by next month. We were able to show where (groundwater) infiltration into our (sewer) lines has caused an overrun in our sewer plant. Hopefully we'll get the grant or at least a portion of it," said Mayor Hendrixson

The city is seeking up to one million dollars in Disaster Recovery CDBG Funds from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to ensure that much needed rehabilitation of the sewer system is met to avoid any problems that may arise in the event of severe flooding. The UCDD filed the application on behalf of the city.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs asked again for city officials look into putting in a sidewalk on at least one side of Anthony Avenue near Walmart to keep people from walking in the street, going to and from the store. Jacobs said it is a safety concern, especially at night if pedestrians are wearing dark colored clothing, making it more difficult for motorists to see them. Mayor Hendrixson said constructing sidewalks there will be a challenge because of deep ditches on either side of the street but he will check this week to see what can be done. Walmart officials may also be contacted to see if they want to support the endeavor in some manner.

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