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Johnson City Commission OKs TVAproperty rezoning on second reading

COREY SHOUN • Mar 17, 2007 at 1:33 AM

JOHNSON CITY - With one more Johnson City Commission vote in his favor, developer Stewart Taylor will get his desired rezoning. Site plan approval for the former Tennessee Valley Authority property might take a bit longer, however.

On Thursday night, the commission approved on second reading an ordinance to rezone Taylor's property, located at the intersection of West Market Street and North State of Franklin Road, from R-4 residential zoning to MS-1 medical services/commercial mix zoning.

Approval of the measure on third reading, during the April 5 commission meeting, would seemingly bring to an end several years worth of disputes over zoning and use of the 8.6-acre tract. While indications are good that the measure will succeed where others have failed on third reading, including an MS-1 request from Mountain States Health Alliance in 2002, commission concerns over traffic, safety and business types may well hold up site plan approval.

T. Arthur "Buddy" Scott, attorney for Taylor, said his client had met with city Planning Director Jim Donnelly and Public Works Director Phil Pindzola within the past two weeks to discuss the site plan.

Scott said Taylor has ordered new site plans that reflect suggestions by city staff, including no left turns into or out of any development on the site without an access road that would be constructed to adjoin the property with the traffic light along North State of Franklin across from Johnson City Medical Center.

Such a road would have to be built on city property behind the Washington County Health Department office. The road would be about 1,400 feet in length.

"We are absolutely dead set opposed to any left-turn movements out of the property. ... They have agreed to that," Pindzola said.

Left-turn ingress or egress for the property would require traffic to cross several lanes, including turn lanes, of traffic very near to the traffic light on both West Market and North State of Franklin. The intersection is considered to be the busiest in the city during most parts of the day.

While Pindzola and Donnelly did not go so far as to ask Taylor for assurances that certain types of businesses, including freestanding restaurants with drive-through windows, not be included in development plans, Scott said Taylor might be amenable to such a proposal.

"Additional restrictions (beyond what is not allowed under MS-1 zoning) could be included," Scott said.

Commissioner Ricky Mohon, who voted against approval of the rezoning along with Commissioner Pete Paduch, urged his fellow commissioners to defer second reading until a new site plan is brought before them."Right now, we don't know what we're voting on," Mohon said. Mayor Steve Darden, Vice Mayor Phil Roe and Commissioner Jane Myron voted to approve the ordinance."Nothing's going to be built over there without a binding site plan," Roe said. "We can defer the site plan ad nauseam until we're happy with it."Pindzola also asked the commission to keep in mind the aesthetic importance of the site."It is highly visible," Pindzola said. "It would be great for the community if we could get it architecturally correct."

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