Mount Carmel BMA kills Main Street rezoning following outcry

Jeff Bobo • Mar 28, 2007 at 12:54 PM

MOUNT CARMEL - Thanks to an outcry of opposition from property owners along Main Street, the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen killed an ordinance Tuesday evening that would have zoned all property for retail businesses only.

The BMA held a public hearing prior to the vote during which Main Street property owners expressed their opinions.

"Several years ago we went through this same zoning, and it didn't work," said property owner Larry Frost. "It deterred a lot of people from selling their property. We had such strict criteria put on it at that time it didn't work."

The proposed rezoning would have limited future uses of Main Street property to retail sales establishments such as shops and restaurants. Although existing property uses would not be affected, new developments would be restricted.

Some types of new establishments that would have been restricted included professional services such as attorneys or real estate.

Francis Frost told the BMA she understands that the town needs new commercial development, and she supports that effort.

She added, however, that placing restrictions on the property use is not the right way to go about it.

"To think that this board can tell us who we can sell to, or what we can do with it - I just can't belive that could happen, not only to me but others in this room who have properties on Main Street," Francis Frost said. "This zoning probably will happen. Maybe not in our lifetime, but it will happen. That's just progress.

"But we are totally against it because we don't want our rights taken away from us. We want the town to grow, but would that really help this town to say to people around us ... ‘Don't move there. They're so strict. Don't take your business there.'"

Some speakers said the mere mention of this rezoning proposal has caused potential developers from halting proposed Main Street land purchases because they fear the town might restrict land use - if not now, sometime in the future.

Last month the BMA approved the first reading of the Main Street rezoning ordinance. Tuesday evening, however, the BMA voted unanimously against the second reading.

Mayor Gary Lawson told the crowd at the outset of the meeting he would be encouraging the board to kill the rezoning proposal. Lawson encouraged the property owners to make their opinions known, however, because it's possible that the proposal will come up again at some time.

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