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Johnson City leaders to consider rezoning former TVA property

COREY SHOUN • Feb 14, 2007 at 11:24 AM

JOHNSON CITY - The Johnson City Commission is scheduled to once again consider rezoning options for the always controversial former Tennessee Valley Authority property during tonight's regular meeting.

Property owner Stewart Taylor hopes his property, located at the corner of West Market Street and North State of Franklin Road, will receive an MS-1 medical/commercial rezoning now that a consulting group has recommended such a designation to the Johnson City Commission.

Market Street Services Inc., an Atlanta consulting firm, included issues involving the property, at the commission's request, in their 60-page study of the city's Med Tech economy.

After recently obtaining a copy of the draft, Taylor's attorney T. Arthur "Buddy" Scott wrote a letter to City Manager Pete Peterson "demanding" that Taylor's long-delayed rezoning request be readdressed by the commission "at the earliest possible time."

The report states "Market Street believes that an MS-1 (Medical Services District) zoning designation would be appropriate, allowing flexibility as well as compatibility for medical uses, offices and retail/commercial uses."

Mayor Steve Darden indicated that while the consultants' recommendation is not tantamount to automatic action by the commission, it will certainly weigh on the panel's final decision.

"The consultants' report constitutes guidance, and the city staff's recommendation also falls into the category of useful guidance, too," Darden said. "When we specifically asked the consultants to weigh in on the former TVA property ... we knew they might recommend RTP (planned research/technology), MS-1, residential or something they had seen work elsewhere.

"As it turns out, it's pretty much a straightforward MS-1 recommendation."

More than a year ago, the commission followed a recommendation by planning staff and initiated consideration of a rezoning for much of the middle anchor of the Med Tech Corridor, including Taylor's parcel, from its current R-4 residential zoning to RTP.

Concurrently, the commission has been considering Taylor's request.

Consideration of both rezoning ordinances has been on hold pending results of the study.

Also on hold has been the process for Taylor to receive a building permit that would allow him to construct condominiums, allowed under R-4 zoning, on the 8.6-acre site.

In related news, Taylor's lawsuit against the city was dismissed Monday.

Taylor filed for a writ of mandamus several months ago in Johnson City Law Court in an attempt to compel the city to issue him a building permit, but Judge Jean Stanley agreed with the city's contention that Taylor did not pursue the proper "administrative process" by filing suit instead of first going to the Johnson City Board of Zoning Appeals.

That avenue will be pursued now, even with consideration of Taylor's MS-1 rezoning request on tap for tonight, Taylor's attorney Arthur Seymour said. He said an appeal of Stanley's ruling will also be considered as they expect consideration of Taylor's rezoning request to be "dragged out" as long as possible.

"If they follow the consultants' recommendation, that's great, I'm happy," Taylor said. "(But) I don't know what to expect from the City Commission."

Darden pointed to a section of the study that states the city, as well as East Tennessee State University and Mountain States Health Alliance - the three entities that commissioned the $90,000 study as a joint venture - should work "in good faith" with Taylor on his development, as it will have an effect on the surrounding area.

"I hope he would follow in the spirit of the consultants' opinion," Darden said.

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