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Memorial Court rezoning gains final approval

Matthew Lane • Sep 5, 2018 at 11:30 AM

KINGSPORT — City leaders on Tuesday gave final approval to the rezoning of the corner of Eastman Road and Fort Henry Drive, a five-acre development that could include a new pharmacy and fast food restaurant.

During its regular meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-1 on the rezoning request. Alderwoman Jennifer Adler voted against the measure, while Alderwoman Colette George abstained, citing a conflict of interest. Alderwoman Betsy Cooper was not in attendance.

ABOUT THE REZONING

The property in question includes four houses on Hemlock Lane and six houses on Memorial Court. Eric Kennedy, the owner of the Gold Rush business (where the giant gorilla sits), plans to redevelop the property, along with the nearby Joe Gong restaurant and its adjacent building.

A conceptual plan shows all of these buildings demolished and in their place a new development, one with a pharmacy at the corner of the intersection and a restaurant (with a double-lane drive-thru) next door.

Kennedy has previously said there’s not a definite timeline on when the houses would be demolished and the property redeveloped. Though city planners support the rezoning, the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission voted to not recommend it.

HOW THEY THINK

At a meeting last month, here’s what several members of the BMA said about the issue.

Jennifer Adler: “I’m a believer that Kingsport’s main asset is its vibrant, diverse and historic neighborhoods. Even those small pockets of neighborhoods ... it’s important we protect. I’m concerned about the precedent that this sets and the message it sends to developers that are accumulating residential properties that borders commercial zoned properties, even if a small amount, is enough to allow us to rezone it as a commercial property.”

Joe Begley: “At the end of day the vote is whether if this is a future commercial intersection. We can't tell him not to tear those houses down. It's his property, and it's zoned a certain way. This corner is a commercial corner in the city of Kingsport.”

Betsy Cooper: “I see both sides, but I see this area as more of a commercial intersection.”

Mike McIntire: “Any time you're looking at zoning changes you have to go by what you think is the highest and best use of the property. In my mind it’s commercial.”

Tommy Olterman: “I certainly understand everybody's position on this because old neighborhoods are hard to replace. But I think your neighborhood will be well protected, children will be safe on the street. I think it'll be something we can be proud of in the city.”

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