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At its regularly scheduled meeting last Tuesday, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen failed to pass a motion to rezone a property on McArthur Street (Highway 55) that would have brought a bakery and beauty shop to the city.
Aside from alderman Cheryl Swan’s lone “yes” vote and Tim Pauley’s vote of “no,” the remainder of the board – Ryan French, Russell Bryan, Donny Parsley and Roxanne Patton – abstained on a move to rezone a current property from residential to commercial.
“I’m hoping they will change their minds and make that change,” said Glenn Chapman, who is proposing two businesses at the location – a bakery and coffee shop on one side and a beauty shop on the other side. “It really surprised me that they didn’t vote for it.”
The matter can be brought back before the board again but not by Swan.
The location in question is on the left side of Highway 55 (if traveling West on Hwy. 55 toward Tullahoma) near the office of Dr. Mark Schmitz. According to Manchester Director of Codes Paul Guess, all properties on the opposite side of the road are zoned commercial and the properties on the left side are projected to be zoned commercial according to the city’s Land Use Plan.
“The [Land Use Plan] is like a growth plan for the city,” explained Guess. “It shows you what, in our opinion, will be commercial, industrial and residential [in the future]. That was probably done back in the early 2000’s,” explained Guess.
Guess added that if brought up for a vote again, the rezoning could pass.
“If an alderman brings this back up … I think there was some confusion … if it is brought back up it could still be voted on. There was nothing wrong with what [Chapman] asked for [from a codes perspective.]”
Despite a positive recommendation from the planning commission, aldermen who abstained from the vote cited a need for more knowledge before potentially moving forward.
“My primary concern was that the property was not re-zoned in 2003 with others and would any Lowery Street covenants restrict the property zoning,” said alderman Ryan French. “I asked both questions and no answer was provided by the representatives from the planning commission.”
French added that he would be in favor of rezoning if the location meets requirements.
Swan, who sits on the planning commission and cast the lone yes vote to rezone the building for the business, said the property passes those requirements.
“When we went to the planning commission Paul [Guess] and [engineer] Scott St. John said that area is projected to be commercial,” said Swan. “Every home on the right side driving towards Tullahoma is already zoned commercial. I voted yes because that whole area, for future growth of Manchester, is to be zoned commercial. There are close properties to it now that are commercial.
“It’s discouraging to others who want to bring growth to this town,” added Swan. “We went through this several years ago, when I wasn’t on the board, when Kohl’s came and there were time restraints that weren’t met. It’s like we don’t want to bring growth to this town.”
Parsley said he was concerned about a back entrance on Lowery Street.
“I would like to study it a little more,” said Parsley. “I was concerned whether or not there was access off Lowery Street. Some citizens were concerned about that.”
Guess said the business doesn’t have current access to Lowery Street and wouldn’t be granted access if requested.
“We wouldn’t allow him to have a back entrance and let a business edge into a residential area,” explained Guess.
Added Chapman: “We won’t be affecting that area on Lowery Street at all. I know one of the concerns [of some citizens] is that it would affect the ability to walk on Lowery Street.”
Kenny Sadler, who did engineering work for Chapman to ensure compliance, said the location meets all requirements.
“It met all requirements and was approved by the planning commission unanimously,” said Sadler. “It meets all commercial requirements with the City of Manchester.”
Sadler added that he is hopeful the matter will be brought before the board again and passed.
“It would be unheard of if they didn’t zone something commercial that is in the plan; so I think it will eventually go through.”
Chapman said the lack of action by the city is slowing down his progress.
“We would have it ready in a couple of months … if they wouldn’t have done this we would have had the process moving already. We would be paving,” explained Chapman. “We already have internet. We are ready.”
Chapman also expressed frustration that, during the same meeting, the board voted to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for retail recruitment services, which could be costly to the city.
“It’s a little ironic that during the same meeting they vote to pay someone thousands of dollars to come in and solicit business to the city,” said Chapman. “If they want progress they have to ruffle some feathers sometimes. I don’t want to be mean, I know some residents there are concerned about traffic and other things, but it is a business district.”
The RFP Chapman mentions calls for bids for retail and recruitment services for Manchester. The deadline for bids is March 13.