Subdivision gains approval; rental units in doubt

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

One subdivision received final plat approval for expansion, while the Lafayette County Planning Commission took no action on another matter regarding rental property during Monday evening’s monthly meeting at the Chancery Building.

Williams Engineering came before the commission seeking final approval for phase one of Woodson Ridge Subdivision, located off County Road 475.

The developers first came before the board in April with a preliminary plan to develop 32 lots.

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Other than some discussion about changing the name of the subdivision because of all the developments using the name Woodson Ridge, as well as road paving, the commission unanimously gave permission for the development.

Developers were questioned about construction crews using the existing road in the subdivision.

“There’s a point of contention still about the existing road,” developer Eric Williams said. “That was one of the reasons we had to go ahead and put in another entrance. We were going to have to have another entrance anyway for the full-scale development. But the original cobblestone was always developed to access the remaining piece of property. Right now we are not taking any construction through the existing complex.”

Too many rental units?

While the subdivision received fairly easy approval, that wasn’t the case for another item added to the agenda.

Albert Morgan came before the board to add rental properties on 23 of the 46 acres he owns off County Road 475. Morgan currently has two rental units on the property and wanted to add two more units in a different location of the property. New county regulations that went into effect this year state that three or more rental units would make the property a rental complex or commercial development. Morgan said he wants to deed the units — a cabin and two mobile homes — to his three children and has no plans to develop the property for commercial use. That would require Morgan to go through subdivision regulations.

“He’ll have three rented mobile homes that have been there a while and he’s adding two rental cabins,” county building inspector Joel Hollowell said. Three of them will be deeded to his children to live in.

“This is something I’ve been trying to do for years and worked my whole life to get done,” Morgan said. “I’ll be honest with you. If I had known it was going to be this tough, I wouldn’t have done it.”

The units are currently on site, but Morgan said they do not have electricity. Three of the units have been on the property for at least a decade, Morgan said.

“I’ve been living there for 15 years,” Morgan said. “One of them I lived in while I built my house.”

Morgan also indicated he must get a survey completed before he can deed the units to his children and go forward with supplying electricity to the units. The survey won’t be complete for another few weeks.

After lengthy discussion, the commission seemed convinced Morgan was not going to create an illegal subdivision and the units would be deeded to his children. Planning commission chairman T.J. Ray asked county attorney David O’Donnell if the commission should not take action on the issue until Morgan could get with county engineer Larry Britt and Hollowell to take a look at the units in detail.

“I think that would be a wise course,” O’Donnell said.

Morgan agreed, but he’s concerned that property taxes will be coming due soon and he’s being held up.

“I know they’re fixing to hit me for about $700 or $800 a year on taxes and I don’t want to be paying property taxes on things that I’m getting held up and I can’t even put the property in use,” Morgan said.

O’Donnell said the board simply wants to be fully informed before making a decision.

The commission also asked that Morgan clean up an old salvage yard business near the site that some people in the area thought he might be using. Morgan said the business has not been in operation for several years and he will clean up the property.

“I want to get it cleaned up, but I’ve been swamped,” Morgan said. “I want it cleaned up. It needs it bad. I agree with that.”