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Danville Planning Commission (6/13/16)

SouthsideCentral was at the Danville Planning Commission meeting on Monday and we’ve got the most comprehensive coverage for you. The meeting lasted 100 minutes, but we endured it. Heh. Let’s get started!

We’ve got three cases on the agenda today and one code modification. This will be a quick meeting. Not.

Let’s start by looking at our studio audience for today…

We’re filled up on this side. Danielle Staub, HELLO!

And lookie here, we’ve got us a Special Guest Star today. Not Dolores Reynolds, she’s a permanent guest star. Heh. H.F. Haymore joins us. He’ll be up first.

We start with a simple rezoning issue so that two land parcels can be combined on Vandola Road. H.F. Haymore is up to answer any questions.

Ladies & gentlemen, Special Guest Star H.F. Haymore!

There aren’t any questions because it’s a simple request and it passes on a 7-0 vote. Next, we get to Jeff Smith’s proposal to relocate his veterinary clinic to Piney Forest Road. He tried this some months ago but the request got tabled by city council after lots of neighbors objected to the idea at the meeting. That still makes me mad.

Dr. Jeff Smith explains it all.

Smith has to go through this process again because he’s now looking to build the clinic on the vacant lot beside the old Servitex building. That’s a little closer to the houses on Cottonwood Lane, so here we go again.

Smith makes a very good low-key presentation, preemptively knocking out most of the objections from the residents near the area. The city is required to send out notices to property owners within 100 feet of a rezoning/special use permit case, but they do it to a 300-foot radius to get more input. 14 responses were sent back to the city’s planning department and 10 were not opposed (4 opposed).

Let’s get a few things on the record. The property is already zoned Highway Retail – Commercial so a lot of things could go on the property without a special use permit. That includes things like a restaurant, body shop or garage. Animal care clinics have to get a special use permit and can be subject to more regulation.

Now that Smith has finished his presentation, the public hearing continues with people opposed to the project. First up is Rob Melton who lives on Cottonwood Lane. He’s already sent an email to the planning commission with his concerns and it was full of exclamation points, random capitalized WORDS and lots of bluster.

Rob Melton has his turn at the podium.

His speech is much calmer than his email was. His issues with potential retention ponds being a breeding ground for mosquitoes is destroyed by the explanation that retention ponds are used for state-required stormwater management and are built to self-drain. Ken Gillie offers up the retention pond in front of the Murphy USA gas station as an example. Melton says “but that’s not near a neighborhood”. Gillie comes back with “A pond is a pond.” Bazinga.

Melton then talks about his 7-year son with autism and Down’s Syndrome. He says the child is non-verbal, fully handicapped and extremely sensitive to environmental sensory issues. He says that the child would never be able to handle the sound of barking dogs that close to his house. Dammit, that pulls my heartstrings just like it would any other reasonable person. But that’s countered with the fact that the proposed property is zoned commercial and lots of other types of businesses that make noise could go there by right. Some examples include a fast-food restaurant, a garage or a gas station. All of those business types are going make noise, so there’s no way to avoid that. When the commission members start asking questions and giving feedback, you can tell that Ann Evans & Bruce Wilson are taking the lead with a position of “It’s a commercially zoned property and just saying no because of Not In My Back Yard concerns is bad for business”. I sense that attitude from Michael Scearce & Harold Garrison too. Melton seems a bit deflated after he finishes his back-and-forth with the commission members.

And here’s Frances McMillan

McMillan also sent an email with her objections. Her main objection is to “the harm it would do to our older neighborhood (Woodberry Hills) in general.” Her arguments is from the heart, but they’re outweighed (yet again) by the fact that this is a commercial property. She gets the same reaction from the commission members in her back-and-forth and she’s obviously not happy that her argument hasn’t swayed anybody.

I can usually find something to yell at when it comes to Ann Evans & Bruce Wilson at Planning Commission meetings, but today they’re asking pertinent questions and following the rules perfectly when it comes to how they consider cases. I know that Tommy Dodson is a guaranteed “NO” vote on this because we spoke before the meeting. This is heading towards getting approval, but I’m not sure about the margin yet.

Anne Atkins really doesn’t help out the neighbors’ arguments.

Anne Atkins is up next. She owns the house at 100 Summit Road but lives in Florida. She goes off the rails with her speech and gets almost no reaction from the board members. If she accomplished anything, it was to show that the “Not In My Back Yard” mentality can be taken way too far.

After Jeff Smith comes back up to answer final questions, it’s about time for the vote. Smith asks for a maximum of 50 dogs to be outside at once, while the planning staff specified 30. Ken Gillie says he can always come back to the board to get that number raised. Smith is smart enough to know not to push it so he agrees. During previous discussion, Anne Evans suggested that Smith plant a row of fast growing trees/shrubs to block visuals from the Cottonwood Lane residents and Smith agreed. Q Jones asks city attorney Clarke Whitfield if the Planning Commission has to vote to recommend approval or denial, and Whitfield says “Yes.”

With all of these conditions, here comes the vote. It passes 5-2 with Tommy Dodson & Q Jones voting No. We’ll see how it does at the July 5th city council meeting.

We’re already at 1000+ words in this article, so let’s FastForward through the rest of the meeting. George Lovelace’s rezoning request for the old restaurant on North Main St. in the middle of a residential area gets pushed to next month so that he can file the paperwork needed to restrict the zoning changes.

Finally, Gus Dyer has pointed out that the definition of “duplex” is ambiguous in the city’s zoning code and the planning staff agrees. The planning staff agrees, so the commission votes 7-0 to update the definition. The minutes are approved, Ken Gillie says there are already cases for next month’s meeting, and we’re done!

I’m very interested to see how Jeff Smith’s vet clinic proposal works out at the July 5th city council meeting. We’ll have LIVE! coverage of that here on SouthsideCentral.

Thanks for reading the most detailed recap of Monday’s Danville Planning Commission. It’s only here on SouthsideCentral!

5 comments to Danville Planning Commission (6/13/16)

  • Penrose Mall, and the White Mill, are still dead

    Maybe Jeff can open a satellite clinc at Penrose Mall…..I hear and see through your articles that there is plenty of open space there. 🙂

  • Carol Melton

    I am wondering how the writer would feel if a vet clinic were to go in beside his/her home?
    Obviously he/she has zero empathy with the challenges of raising a special needs child!
    I also know that Bruce Wilson is Jeff Smith’s pastor and suspect bias even before the hearing. That vote was a done-deal!

    • If my property was next to a commercial lot, I’d be forced to accept it. That being said, with the amount of things Jeff Smith has done/is doing to reduce the noise footprint, I’d be much appreciative. As for the special needs child, of course I have empathy. But let’s be real. You could very well have a fast-food restaurant at that location with noise and light pollution 24/7. At least Smith said he wants to be home by 6 PM every night.

      You lose all credibility when you try to insinuate that Bruce Wilson was partial in this. Now you’re looking like a “Sour Grapes” woman.

  • NicoleH

    This is a commercial lot and will be developed at some point. I encourage everyone to look up the zoning code and see what can be put on this lot without any oversight (fast food, convenience store, etc.) The vet clinic may not be the ideal situation but at least Dr. Smith is trying to work with the community and he has agreed to conditions set by the planning office that actually restrict him in his ability to operate.

  • Debra B.

    I agree with Nicole and Bruce. I hope you-know-who from Animal Medical Center doesn’t show up at the next Council meeting with her employees again like she did before. Talk about “sour grapes.” It was so obvious what she was trying to do. I am happy for Dr. Smith to bring his business to the city.

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