The Richmond Register

Local News

November 6, 2013

Berea council requests new zoning classification for businesses

Mayor, council members clash over committees

BEREA — A resolution brought before Berea’s city council Tuesday evening sparked discussion about creating a new zone for business owners.

The council approved a resolution asking the planning commission to develop a multi-use zoning classification before rezoning four heavy industrial locations located in residential areas.

Mayor Steven Connelly originally proposed a resolution that would urge the planning commission to rezone four I-2 properties (for heavy industrial manufacturing) to better match their surrounding areas.

The properties were once on the edge of city limits, where industrial establishments are typically allowed, but over time the property around them was acquired by the city, and they are now largely surrounded by residential zones.

Two of the properties are no longer being used for industrial work, and one (the Dresser Building) houses the city’s utilities and street departments.

Connelly asked the council if they thought having a heavy industrial property in a residential area was appropriate, and if they did, he suggested they support the resolution.

As another part of the proposed resolution, the council would also be asking the planning commission to create a conditional zoning classification allowing commercial properties to be used for light industrial work. This had been requested by Bill West, who recently purchased the former Churchill Weavers property, the fourth location the resolution addresses.

West said his plans for the property would be commercial, but would include some of the factory’s industrial use, and he approached the planning commission requesting a mixed-use zone classification be created to accommodate the plan.

Council members Jerry Little and Ronnie Terrill agreed the Dresser Building should be rezoned to a public facility, but both vocally opposed the resolution, saying the council shouldn’t be rezoning the areas unless the property owners specifically request it. Little said the properties were there first and the subdivisions were built around them.

“Zoning classifications are there to protect the property owner,” Little said.

Terrill asked Connelly what the owners wanted, to which the mayor said “it varies.”

Terrill then asked West, who was present at the meeting, to come forward and give his take on the issue.

West told the council he understands why the city would want to rezone the properties, and he supports the change as it creates the possibility of a mixed-use classification for him. However, he said he was uncomfortable with the city rezoning his property and then looking into a new classification, and would rather have the classification exist before any zoning changes are made.

“The more certainty you can give people, the better,” West said.

Connelly said any existing manufacturing occurring on the properties would be grandfathered in with the change and allowed to continue. However, the businesses would not be allowed to increase their production, and any new owner would have to abide by the rules of whatever the new classification was.

Codes administrator Dale VanWinkle said the planning commission was going to host a public meeting in the near future on amending certain commercial zone classifications to allow light industry. However, most council members voice support for creating a new classification to lessen regulations on the business owners.

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