Council votes against rezoning request at Bryant Lake

Published 9:49 pm Friday, June 15, 2018

The LaGrange City Council voted Tuesday to deny a zoning request for a property on Bryant Lake Boulevard in a 3 to 1 vote, with council members Jim Arrington, Nathan Gaskin and Mark Mitchell voted against, and Council Member Tom Gore voted in favor. Mayor Jim Thornton was unable to attend the meeting, and Council Member Willie Edmondson had to leave the meeting early. Mayor Pro Tem LeGree McCamey did not vote.

The vote itself was the subject of some confusion. The council moved the vote on the zoning to early in the meeting in order to allow for the maximum number of council members to vote, and it was unanimously approved. However, later in the meeting council members said that they had not realized that the vote was on the zoning itself, not the substitute ordinance for the zoning. The council unanimously rescinded the vote.

“I would only want to say if I may, that all of the elements of this zoning are permitted in Bryant Lake and the adjacent property,” said Dennis Glenn Drewyer, the applicant. “We are reducing traffic by approximately 32 percent. I don’t understand the hesitation.”

The zoning request was to change the zoning from commercial to residential. Drewyer said previously if the rezoning was approved, construction would begin at the end of the summer.

The houses were projected to sell for $200,000 or more a piece. City Planner Leigh Threadgill confirmed that the zoning standards would be comparable to adjacent property, if it had been approved.

“Several of those conditions were carryovers from the original Bryant Lake development agreement to ensure consistency in the aesthetic requirements that were applied to Bryant Lake when it was approved originally and now because this is an adjacent development to apply to this development,” Threadgill said. “Some of those were added. The 8-foot wide sidewalk is new. Obviously, the density levels are all different. This was all [zoned] commercial.”

The zoning request was approved by the zoning board, but also needed to be passed by the council. In previous meetings, those speaking against the rezoning said that increased traffic and loss in property values would be a problem under the zoning, while the developer claimed the opposite.

“From a lot of our discussion up to this point, the main negative would be the perceived effect on the living conditions of the neighborhood or possibly traffic,” Gore said.

“Those two seem to be the two things that come up more than anything else, and those two things — if you were to see those as negatives [under the proposed plan] — those are standards of our zoning guidelines for approval or disapproval. If you did not think that those were sufficiently strong, or you thought that the other factors outweigh those two things, then you would have 10 standards that would support the decision in the other direction.”

Arrington said that he voted against due to concern for possible traffic in the future. However, Gaskin said his vote was due to developers trying to use citizens to force a decision in a certain direction, and he addressed the homeowners in attendance directly.

“When you bought that house at that subdivision, it was not exclusive to that subdivision,” Gaskin said. “You have an easement that goes through another piece of property, and eventually, at some point in time that property is going to be developed. However, in developing it, you may have two builders that are competitive in nature, and what I feel is that they have pitted the community to get in the middle of two developers who are in competition with one another. Both working for profit. When you bought that house, it wasn’t about profit. It was about investment. … I just wanted to send a clear message to all of the developers: I don’t appreciate the citizens of this community being used as ammunition, not only against this council but against each other.”

Drewyer said that he would appeal the decision.