Norman property gets second rezoning rejection
By: Mary Hinds
Source: Loudon County News-Herald

The request to rezone 30.5 acres of property at 3060 Old Kingston Pike Road, owned by Kenneth and Jane Norman, was once again rejected by the Loudon County Regional Planning Commission. The request was back on the agenda at the Feb. 20 meeting after being denied by the commission Jan. 16.

County Planner Russ Newman introduced the matter, explaining the plan brought before the planning commission Jan. 16 called for building 3.8 units per acre, which the planning commission rejected as inappropriately dense. The developers said the 3.8 units per acre density was a typographical error and the proposal should have read less than 3 units per acre. The revised plan was resubmitted at 2.69 units per acre.

Several people who are neighbors of the property in question came to previous meetings to oppose the approval of the rezoning request and many were back at the Feb. 20 meeting.

The item was the first on the agenda and several commissioners voiced the same reason for rejecting the proposal - that it is not consistent with the county’s land use plan. Chairman Charles Harrison asked if there was anyone who wanted to comment on this item - the point where the person or persons making the request usually speak to commissioners - but no one came forward to defend the proposal. The question was called and the request was denied.

At the end of the meeting when the chair asked for additional public comments, James Christopher, a real estate agent working on the project addressed the commission. Christopher said he and his colleges were late getting to the meeting and he appeared shocked that his proposal had been rejected before he even arrived to defend it. Commissioners told him the meeting time was posted.

"I’m having a hard time understanding your process," Christopher said. He said he was under the impression that if the density was lowered the request would be approved. "The county commission was excited," he said. "Now we’re told we’re not going to get anything." He also claimed the typo in the original request was the fault of the planner’s office and insinuated County Planner Russ Newman had assured him that if the plan was resubmitted at a lower density it would be approved.

Newman took exception to that statement, noting he would “have to check the tape" of the meeting and that he didn’t believe he would say such a thing. "I can’t speak for this board," Newman told Kennedy.

Commission Ron Parr, who represents the 5th District where the land in question is located told Kennedy it wouldn’t have mattered if he had been on hand at the beginning of the meeting to defend the request because so many of the neighbors were against the plan. More importantly, he added, the plan went against the county’s long-term land use plan, which calls for the area to remain an A-1, Agriculture Forestry District.

Kennedy continued arguing his points until Commissioner Martin Brown finally asked why they were still discussing something that had already been voted on and rejected. The commission agreed.

David Norman, son of the property owners, speaking after the meeting expressed dismay about the decision of the commission. He said he sent a letter to Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp protesting what he called an unfair decision. The letter says, in part, "The unanimous and total denial ... without making even a compromised decision between the zoning request acreage value and what the commission would be willing to approve give me great concern and reservations” about what may have influenced the decision.