By CRISTIN REECE
Palestine City Council revisited the matter of changing the planning and zoning classification of the courthouse square, last week, after city staff worked with one concerned business owner who felt those changes might adversely affect his business property’s future.
Council members approved the proposed zoning classification changes for businesses surrounding the downtown square during the regular council meeting held on Sept. 23.
The matter had initially been discussed during the Aug. 26 council meeting, but was tabled after David Parker Jr., owner of a transmission repair shop on a corner of the courthouse square in Palestine, spoke in opposition of the proposed change.
“I walked all around the square the day I got the city’s letter (concerning the zone change),” Parker told council members during the Aug. 26 meeting. “My business is the only one that’s going to be affected at all. I been there 24 years and owned the building for two.”
City officials on Aug. 26 had proposed changing the zone classification for the business district surrounding the Anderson County Courthouse from C-3, General Retail Commercial District to CBD, Central Business District.
City Development Director Jeffrey Lyons said the change would help address future parking issues and allow people to reside in the buildings on the square in addition to operating commercial establishments.
No other property owners in the affected area responded to the city’s letters, and no other member of the public, other than Parker, spoke either for or against the change during the public hearing on the issue, held Aug. 26.
Parker said in August, he was concerned the new zoning classification would limit the salability of his building in the future, if potential buyers were restricted as to what types of businesses could operate within the area.
He also expressed concern with the way the zoning ordinance was worded, specifically how it defined minor and major auto repair; the guidelines he’d have to follow if something were to destroy his building; and how long a business would have to be closed before it’s considered out of business.
Lyons said during the Aug. 26 meeting he agreed, some of the definitions within the zoning ordinances were inconsistent.
After reviewing the matter and speaking more with Parker earlier this month, city records indicate officials recommended Parker apply for a $150 specific use permit once the zoning changes were approved, which would allow him to continue operation of his business at its current location since minor automotive repair uses are allowed with a permit within the CBD zone classification.
“(Parker) had some very valid concerns,” Lyons said. “And we still have many amendments that need to be made. We’re always willing to work with people on issues that might come up with any change made to the code.”
Parker was unavailable for comment as of presstime on Friday, but Lyons said the business owner seemed “willing to work with” the solution city officials presented him.