Sulphur Springs Planning and Zoning Commission Monday evening approved the final plat request submitted for Ladera RV Resort, pushing it forward with a recommendation that the City Council approve it at the regular February meeting. The city board is recommending the two rezoning requests be denied, however.
Ladera RV Resort Final Plat
Cole Heitman requested a final plat which will combine multiple lots into one 48.11-acre property off Loop 301 and wrapping around behind the Paris-Junior College-Sulphur Springs Center to Jefferson Street where Ladera RV Resort is planned. Heitman has already received the special use permit to construct the RV Resort, which was previously approved for up to 128 RV sites at 1229 Loop 301.
The plat as proposed will include a new public water line through the property to provide required fire protection and domestic water service. A private sewer line is also proposed to provide sewer service for the development. The public water line installation will require a community facilities contract authorization as a mechanism to dedicate the water line to the public. Installation costs will be the responsibility of the developer, however, the City will take ownership of the water line and future maintenance after it is approved. An easement will have to be granted for fire suppression purposes, Sulphur Springs Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski told the Planning & Zoning Commission during the regular meeting Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.
Niewiadomski noted city staff had reviewed it and recommended the plat be approved and the city manager authorized to execute a community facilities contract.
P&Z Commissioner Pat Chase said he thinks City staff has done an excellent job on this project and made a motion to approve the final plat for Ladera RV Resort. Commissioner Twila Gill seconded the motion. With Both Chase, Gill and Matthew Mattison (the only three able to attend Monday’s meeting) voting in favor of the final plat as approved, the motion passed.
Main Street Rezoning Request
Wayne Cooper of C&C Guardian LLC asked for 10-acres of vacant property, consisting of 2 lots, in the 2100 block of Main Street be rezoned from light commercial to light industrial.
Niewiadomski reminded the P&Z Commission that they’d reviewed a request during summer 2022 for the site to be used for a manufactured housing business. C&C indicated a desire to have more flexibility in options for marketing the property, which is located 2 properties west of Lovers Lane along State Highway 313 (Main Street) for development.
Property to the north of the area is zoned single family (SF-6) but contains single family residences; to the east is zoned light commercial but also single family use; the south of 2113 Main Street is zoned single family-6 and light industrial, but use is for single family or vacant; and to the west is light commercial but used for professional offices.
The land use plan identifies this area along Main Street as commercial frontage. It is intended that in the future, this area will be commercially developed towards the east and more industrial towards the west where it is already zoned industrial.
Of the 14 letters to property owners within 200 feet of 2113 Main, one was opposed and one was undecided. The letter in opposition stated that hte area is 95% residential, thus, heavy industrial activity would put a strain on residents, Niewiadomski said, noting that city staff recommended denying the zoning change request.
Barbara Williams, who submitted the undecided response letter, told Niewiadomski after hearing the information presented, she is appreciative to the city staff for recommending the the request be denied, and as of Monday night agreed with the recommendation.
Elise Douglas said she and Ginger Brooks operate a counseling business in the 2100 block of Main Street. She expressed concerns that the zoning change was requested without a specific plan as to how the property would be used. She said it is important that her clients be able to feel comfortable in a quiet environment. Industrial could mean manufacturing and heavy traffic, which she said is “enough as it is” from the existing businesses further down in the area. Already, she noted people miss turns and end up in the ditch in front of their property, nearly striking their sign.
Tenny Tanton, speaking for her parents who have lived in that area since the 1980s, purchasing the property when the whole area was outside of town and an agricultural property. They’ve watched it become more and more commercial over the years. Her parents had a small business, but have retire and plan to continue living there. It’s very frustrating to see the property surrounded on three sides by residences become industrial. She said they are opposed to the residential area becoming industrial.
Wayne Cooper, who along with Stacy Cody has made the request for the zoning change, said they were asked about the property by the Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation, who indicated they need property on which to expand. He said the railroad tracks through the property would not make it suitable for a housing addition. He said he believes it is not the intent of the EDC to let bad things happen, but to put someone in there who’d make a good neighbor. The light industrial zoning of the 10 acres would help them to better do that.
Chris Gibbins said he believes his family to be the longest tenured residents of the area. His parents live on the corner and he and his wife intent to live across from there for the rest of their lives too. They too are concerned there’d be noise and pollution if the area were to be joined industrial. They believe industrial zoning and business should be outside the city limits, not next to residential neighborhoods. He noted the property owners knew the area was residential when they obtained it.
Mattison asked if the issue could be tabled until the EDC could be present to address the matter, since they were noted as potentially wanting to obtain the property, to determined planned uses.
Niewiadomski said the matter is to be forwarded to the City Council with a recommendation.
Chase said without knowing the intent for the property if rezoned, he accepted the staff recommendation to deny the rezoning request. Gill seconded the motion. Mattison said if the EDC had noted a special project in mind with information, it might have made the decision easier. He too voted to deny the request to rezone 2113 Main Street light industrial. That recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council at the February meeting when the zoning request is presented to them.
Hillcrest Drive Rezoning Request
Niewiadomski said city staff also recommended denial of Scott Hemby’s request that a vacant 1.51-acre property at the southeast corner of Hillcrest Drive and Azalea Lane be rezoned from professional office to light commercial. He noted that Citizens also expressed concerns about the proposed zoning change. He noted nine letters were sent to surrounding property owners within 200 feet of the proposed change. The city received three responses back, two in favor of and one opposed to the change.
The request cites a desire for more flexibility in options for marketing 1336 Azalea Lane 1340 Azalea Lane and 491 Hillcrest Drive for development as the reason for the proposed change.
The property on three sides of the area is single family housing and zoned SF-6, while the property to the south is zoned light commercial, where a funeral home is located.
The land use plan identifies this area along Hillcrest as commercial frontage. In 2010, the property was proposed to be rezoned from SF-6 to LC. Due to opposition presented, the applicant agreed to downzone to Professional Office. To date, conditions along Highway 19 have not changed significantly from 2010 when this request was previously reviewed. Azalea Lane is the entrance to the Highland Hills subdivision which is exclusively a residential single family development and also included lots along Hillcrest north of this site. Professional office allows for bank, medical, and business offices as a low intensity range of uses allowable. PO is the lowest level of commercial zoning in the Zoning Ordinance. Stepping up to Light Commercial does expand the opportunities up to a lot of potential uses that would be allowed by right, Niewiadomski said.
Hembry said his approach is to take something ugly and and make it pretty. He is currently renovating the old tobacco shop property on Jefferson Street for Pioneer Cafe. At one time, funeral partners had expressed interest in the property, but that’s changed. Others have expressed interest in the property as well but are not willing to gamble purchasing the land and then the city not approve the zoning required.
Cynthia Loftis said four of the five people she’s talked to who are within the range of the request said they were not in favor of the zoning change. She is opposed to it. She expressed concerns for noise, pollution, potential hours of operations and increased heavy traffic through the neighborhood, all of which could impact the health and safety and quality of life for individuals living in the neighborhood.
If the area is developed for light commercial, any business would enter from State Highway 19 not Azalea Lane, Hemby said.
Seth McDaniel pointed out that SH 19 is a commercial road. Designated professional office, something as simple as a gym could not be located in the area due to the professional office designation. He said the town is growing and doesn’t see a reason that shouldn’t happen. Traffic on Azalea Lane would not be based on traffic passing by on SH 19.
Mattison said if they knew what might be going in at the location the Planning & Zoning Commission might be more comfortable making a decision regarding the zoning request.
Chase made the motion to accept as staff recommended not approving the request for a zoning change. Gill seconded the motion, and all three voted the same. The P&Z Commission’s recommendation to deny the rezoning request is being forwarded to the City Council, who is expected to see the request on on the regular Feb. 7 meeting agenda.