County Planning Commission discusses zoning, variances

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What does a swimming pool, a downstairs bedroom and a tire store have in common?

All were topics of discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of the Lafayette County Planning Commission. Nearly five months into the county’s implementation of zoning ordinances, homeowners and business owners gathered to state their case.

First up was a public hearing and discussion about the installation of a swimming pool at a home in Twelve Oaks subdivision. The homeowner presented a letter of approval from their homeowner’s association as well as a site plan. The commissioners listened to the homeowner’s request, and subsequently voted to approve the dimensional variance.

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Next, the commission heard from Steve McGraw, who said he’d decided to move to Wellsgate subdivision to be closer to his family, after he and his wife had lived in Memphis for more than 40 years.

McGraw’s request was for a dimensional variance to add on a downstairs bedroom to the home he’d recently purchased. He said his plans were to convert the existing garage on the home to a bedroom suite, and then build a new garage in front of the bedroom. To do that, McGraw said he’d need about a three-foot variance from the property line.

During discussion, county building inspector Joel Hollowell expressed his support for the project.

“Mr. McGraw did provide me with some plans that prove there are no bedrooms downstairs,” Hollowell said. “Due to possible long-term maintenance issues, the architect felt like this would be the best option.”

After reviewing a letter of approval from the Wellsgate homeowner’s association, the planning commission gave their approval.

The next item on the agenda concerned a conditional use request from Henry Liggins, owner of Ultimate Auto on Highway 7 North. According to Hollowell, Liggins first approached the county with the intentions of operating a car detailing business. However, Liggins installed a car lift, and informed Hollowell that he’d like to service tires as well. Selling tires, Hollowell said, falls under the Commercial Medium Density, or C2, classification, while Liggins’ shop is in an area zoned for Agricultural Low Density, or A1.

Instead of discussing the conditional use request, the commission focused on the guidelines Liggins would have to follow to comply with the zoning ordinances.

Liggins met the requirements for a 30-foot buffer and six feet of vegetative screening, but Hollowell said there was more to take into consideration. The business also shares a property line with Faith Baptist Church, and at the time, there is no buffer between the two.

Hollowell recommended that Liggins install a fence along that border, but Liggins said the church might feel otherwise.

“I had talked to the church about it, and they don’t want a fence dividing the property,” Liggins said. “They came over and talked to me about taking down the fence line and clearing it up so there wouldn’t be any weeds in between there.”

Commissioner Johnny Sowell admitted that, while Liggins had done an “amazing job” with the business and meeting zoning requirements, he didn’t feel comfortable giving a definitive answer without hearing from a representative of the church.

The planning commission voted to approve Liggins’ request, contingent on having a written statement regarding the fence from Faith Baptist Church.