Rogersville BMA moves to tighten restrictions on Gateway Overlay District

Jeff Bobo • Nov 20, 2019 at 6:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — An ordinance approved on first reading last week drastically reduces the maximum size of building additions that would be exempt from  Rogersville's Gateway Overlay District exterior-appearance guidelines.

In 2015, the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a Gateway Overlay District, which covers nearly all of Main Street within the city's boundaries.

The Gateway Overlay District ordinance established guidelines for the exterior appearance of new commercial construction within the overlay.

The idea was to prevent visually unappealing structures from being constructed on Rogersville's main access road into the city’s historic downtown.

Rogersville building inspector Steve Nelson told the Times News on Tuesday that the Gateway guidelines are separate from building-facade guidelines established for the historic district, which are much more strict.

“The Gateway guidelines talks about how the facade should look, establishes landscaping requirements and keeps us from having new metal buildings or cinder block buildings in our commercial areas of Main Street east and west of downtown,” Nelson said. “It keeps Main Street looking aesthetically pleasing and cohesive — just trying to keep the junk off of Main Street because it's the gateway to downtown.”

The original Gateway ordinance allowed construction of additions that increase in floor space up to 50% before the Gateway guidelines kicked in. The new proposal reduces the size of additions affected by the Gateway requirements to 30% of the original floor space.

“We had a couple of potential projects pop up that were smaller than 50% but were still pretty darn big additions,” Nelson noted. “That's why the planning commission decided to shrink the addition size from 50% to 30%.”

On Nov.12, the BMA approved the first of three required readings of the ordinance amendment. The ordinance is expected to be on the BMA’s December agenda as well.

Taking over the Depot

The BMA also voted on Nov. 12 to accept the 99-year lease that the Rogersville Heritage Association holds on the Rogersville Depot property.

City Attorney Bill Phillips informed the BMA that before the County Commission considers final approval of a property transfer deeding the Rogersville Depot from the county to the city, the BMA must first vote to accept the current 99-year lease of the property held by the RHA.

The RHA lease doesn't expire until 2086.

Rogersville had agreed to take ownership of the Depot, located at the corner of Depot Street and Broadway Avenue, in hopes of finding grant funding to pay for needed repairs to the 129-year-old former train station.

Currently the depot is used for the RHA business offices as well as housing the Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum.

Rogersville Christmas Parade

Chamber of Commerce Director Nancy Barker informed the BMA that the annual Christmas parade will be Saturday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. The theme will be “All American Christmas.”

Lineup starts at 2:30 p.m. with fire trucks in the Hawkins Elementary school parking lot and all other vehicles and marchers staging in front of East Rogersville Baptist Church.

Surplus rifle scopes

The BMA agreed to declare 13 Vortex rifle scopes from the police department as surplus.

City Recorder Glenn Hutchens said the scopes will be advertised for bids on Govdeals.com.

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