, 2014


Planning commission is against
commercial rezoning near bridge

by Audrey Thomasson

LANCASTER—A group of citizens last week convinced the Lancaster planning commission to reject a commercial rezoning request in their residential neighborhood near White Stone.

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The commission members voted 5-0 to forward the application to supervisors with a recommendation to disapprove. The commission decision is not binding.

Commission members Bob Smart, Glendon Pinn, Tara Booth, David Chupp and Ty Brent voted in favor of the motion. Members David Jones and Steve Sorenson did not attend the meeting.

Eileen Lawson of Middlesex applied to rezone a 0.405-acre parcel at 20521 Mary Ball Road from residential to commercial to operate a garden center and a second small business such as web design. The land is adjacent to the existing Wilson Trucking facility, a short distance from the Robert O. Norris Jr. Memorial Bridge.

Lawson said she plans to completely renovate the small building on the site and initially open as a part-time business. It could take two or three years before she is fully operational, she said.

“It will look like a garden with plants along the border as a hedge,” added Lawson. “There may be some mold making for online sales.”

About 10 citizens opposed the change, noting the rezoning would allow the continuation of commercial activities to creep into their residential community. Earlier in February, White Stone rezoned a nearby residential parcel to commercial. The intended use for that parcel next to White Stone Family Practice is a car wash.

The town does not have jurisdiction in the current case before the county.

“There are other properties available in White Stone that will suit what she wants. We’ve been residents there and we would like to keep it that way. We’re being put upon...nothing else is going north,” said Gloria Lee.

Lloyd Hill of Weems said he owns one of the adjacent properties. “It seems to me that once again the black community has to come to a public hearing to defend our residential community. It’s spot zoning.”

The abandoned trucking company moved there some 30 years ago, before zoning ordinances were put into place to protect neighborhoods, he said. The applicant can claim anything to get approval “but then who polices it?” he asked.

“The proffer is enforced by the planning and land use director,” responded Smart.

A young mother testified she would worry about her children’s safety from unmonitored people pulling into the garden center next to her house. “No way in the world she (Lawson) knows who’s coming in to look at plants,” said Tytenesha Hendricks. “There was just an Amber Alert yesterday.”

She said the crew working on the Norris Bridge operates from the trucking facility. “There are men at Wilson Trucking keeping me awake all night,” she said, adding that police have not responded to her complaints.

Elton Smith said businesses continue to locate in black neighborhoods. “It’s not right,” he said. “Please take into consideration what neighbors are saying.”

Chupp complimented neighbors for coming to the meeting. “Very rarely do we see neighbors show up for public hearings,” he said. “I agree it’s spot zoning. There is not another business within a half mile of this. I don’t know why we’re even considering it.”

However, he was also sympathetic to Lawson.

“If you were closer to White Stone I’d be in favor. If we vote against your request, I encourage you to find another property,” said Chupp.

Lawson corrected Chupp, saying the site is only a tenth of a mile from the doctors’ offices. Also, she said she didn’t want to upset neighbors with her business plans.

“Zoning rules are in place to protect the community,” said Brent, offering his support to neighbors. He also urged Lawson to consider another location.

“I’m all for business. If not for the opposition, I would be all in favor,” said Pinn.


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