By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Grayson City Council took the first steps toward rezoning a portion of Rupert Lane from highway business to residential two zoning. This opens the door to residential development on some small, empty lots in the neighborhood, while restricting future business usage. Existing businesses already located within the area will be grandfathered in.
Council took the move following recommendations from the planning and zoning commission to rezone the area.
Larry Doucet, who serves on planning and zoning, explained that several empty lots in the neighborhood have not sold because of the business zoning.
As a result, he said, “(the city is) losing the property tax base there.”
With the rezoning only new single family homes or multi-family units, like a duplex, can be built on those vacant lots in the neighborhood. Doucet told council there would not be sufficient space to provide parking for a development like an apartment building.
He also explained that trailers could not be moved into the lots, because those are limited to residential three zoned neighborhoods.
Council moved unanimously to approve the first reading, despite concern from some residents that the move could change their property tax rates or that an apartment building might be constructed on one of the small lots. Concerns, Doucet said, that were unfounded, especially given the restrictions of the property size – less than two acres of land are impacted.
What it could do, zoning and council hope, is finally lead to some revitalization on land that has sat unsold because of the previous business restrictions.
In other action the council moved to recognize 911 telecommunicators, “our first, first responders,” as mayor Troy Combs called them, as part of national Telecommunicators Week events. Council also heard from Dan Click and Mindy Woods-Click on local community planning, including the impact the Grayson Gallery has had on drawing visitors to the city – thousands of individuals over the course of its now 12-year history – and plans to expand that reach with projects and events in the Blue Goose building and at the Gap pocket park.
Council also heard from code enforcement, and discussed the current lack of penalties for a failure to purchase building permits on new additions or other construction. If home owners are currently caught making improvements without a permit, code enforcement officer Joe Hammer told council, his only recourse is to force them to purchase one. If their property improvement doesn’t require an inspection for new utilities connections, however, which can only be performed if they have purchased all the proper building permits, the code enforcement officer really has no leverage to force the issue.
To correct this, council moved to enter into the first reading of an ordinance to set fines for non-compliance with the building permit requirements.
In other action council heard from emergency management and the fire department on a planned mock disaster at the high school, discussed the potential for city police to contribute, collaborate, and work with FADE to combat drug sales.
Council also moved to table discussions of the city’s dog problem and KCU’s storm drain issues, adopted a resolution for grant applications, and voted to amend the city’s noise ordinance.
The amended ordinance allows businesses to utilize outside speakers in highway business or entertainment business zones up until 11 p.m. on weekend nights. Restrictions after 9 p.m. will remain in place through the week.
The mayor also presented council with a report on revenue projections and budget submissions for the coming fiscal year. Those numbers include $3.2 to $3.8 million in projected revenue for the year.
While those numbers don’t have Combs concerned about how the city will pay their bills yet, it may require some potential belt-tightening in the future.
Because of this, Combs said, he was dismissing the idea of a wage increase.
“I don’t see how we can afford raises at this time,” he told council.
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