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Mount Carmel finalizes end of 'retail sales only' zoning on Main Street

July 4th, 2014 8:00 am by Jeff Bobo

Mount Carmel finalizes end of 'retail sales only' zoning on Main Street

This aerial photo of the southern half of Mount Carmel shows the new zoning changes approved on June 26 by the BMA. (courtesy of the City of Kingsport)

MOUNT CARMEL — During a special called meeting last week, the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave its final approval to an ordinance that does away with the 2009 B-2 "retail only" zoning on most of Main Street.

The 2009 Main Street rezoning wasn't popular with some property owners who resented having future use of their property restricted to retail sales only.

The idea was to prevent future uses of all Main Street frontage from including new residential developments, banks, medical services and other professional services that don't generate sales tax revenue. Existing Main Street businesses and residences were "grandfathered" in.

The BMA met in special session on June 26 to approve the second and final reading of an ordinance eliminating most of the changes made in 2009.

As part of the new plan, Main Street west of Jefferson Avenue will be zoned MX1, which allows retail or service businesses, offices, or public uses such as parks.

Only the section of downtown Main Street between Hammond Avenue and Englewood Avenue remains zoned B-2 for retail use only.

Territory south of Highway 11-W in the Holston Army Ammunition Plant which is within the city limits is also zoned B-2.

The BMA also voted to rezone a strip of Main Street east of Jefferson Avenue to MX2, which allows all of the same uses as MX1 plus residential use.

That MX2 zoning was also placed on nearby Bay Street and a strip of Independence Avenue that had been rezoned B-2 on 2009 as well.

The BMA had also proposed a B-1 business zone for a section of Carters Valley Road beginning just west of the Independence Avenue intersection and extending to the western boundary of the town. During a recent planning commission meeting, however, several property owners asked that the proposal be scrapped because they wanted the area to stay rural residential. The BMA complied with the request, and that aspect of the rezoning project was withdrawn.

Mount Carmel planning advisor Ken Weems told the Times-News on Thursday that with the new zoning changes on Main Street, "No uses are being taken away from any property owners at all. The uses are only being expanded."

The MX2 zoning was especially needed to protect residential property owners on Bay Street, Weems added.

"There was a lady on Bay Street who had a house in that B-2 zone which doesn't allow residential use," he said. "The home had been vacant for so long that the non-conforming clause wouldn't allow it to be re-established as a residential use. The portions of Bay Street that were zoned MX2 — those are all parcels that front Bay Street and Bay Street alone. The ones that have double frontage on both Bay and Main streets were rezoned MX1, which doesn't allow residential."

Added Weems: "But I think it just totally made sense because the vast majority of that (Bay Street only frontage) are residential use, and residential buildings. But one benefit of MX2 is if they wanted to — they would probably have to combine some parcels — but they could put a commercial use in there."

There was also a section of property adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Railroad that had been zoned B-2 in 2009 as well. That area begins where the railroad turns away from Independence Avenue and extends to the north along the railroad.

Weems said he didn't understand why that property was zoned B-2, but the BMA agreed to change it back to R-1 residential.

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