Monteagle Planning: Property Uses, Tiny Homes, Signage?

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Sept. 7 meeting, the Monteagle Planning Commission weighed four residential uses questions. The commission approved the signage plan for the Southern Tire Mart and denied the signage plan for the Petro Development. The commission also discussed what circumstances required a site plan.

Revisiting issues addressed at the August meeting, town planner Garret Haynes suggested amending two zoning ordinances. Amendment to the residential zoning ordinance would allow single family homes, duplexes, mobile homes, and doublewide mobile homes in R-3 zoning, i.e., all dwellings permitted in R-1 and R-2. The proposed commercial zoning amendment would allow apartments and condominiums in C-2 zoning “as special exceptions” upon review by the planning commission.

Building inspector Earl Geary recommended adopting both amendments. Many people who wanted to build homes could not, Geary said, due to the large amount of R-3 zoning. “It’s hurting the city,” he insisted. In support of apartments and condominiums in C-2 zoning, Geary said regarding the corridor on the Sewanee side of town, “If you put residential in there, it will open it up for more commercial.”

Commissioner Richard Black pointed out the R-3 change had been discussed at length previously, but the C-2 change had not. Geary said the commission could proceed with the R-3 change and revisit the C-2 change later. Haynes will finalize the language on the R-3 change for the commission’s review.

Randy Tate, new owner of Trail Head Cabins (formerly Hickory Creek Cottages), asked to have the property rezoned from R-3 to R-4 to allow for tiny homes for short-term rentals. Tate pointed to the economic boon of bringing tourists to the area.

“As of January, there is no R-4 zoning in Monteagle,” Haynes said. “The opportunity is there to have an R-4 zoning district…This is the process to go through.” According to Haynes, minimum residence size in an R-3 is 600 square feet.

“There was confusion with ordinance and maps and how they were approved,” Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman said. “We were advised by our attorney to back up and start at a starting point to make sure everything is consistent…It’s not we’re anti tiny home. We have to make sure we do things correctly.”

Tate indicated he wanted to bring in a 350 square foot dwelling. “We want to continue doing what’s already there and what’s across the street,” he said, referring to the Bear Hollow property.

Geary said the tiny-home size residences on the Tate property now were brought in years ago. Geary advised Tate to let him review the floor plan of the proposed dwelling.

In discussion about the two signage plans presented for approval, Haynes said the Southern Tire Mart plan met the minimum requirements. Rodman abstained from the vote since the business would be located on the Pilot property, and her husband served as general manager at the Pilot truck stop.

Haynes recommended denying the Petro signage plan because the plan exceeded the number of allowable signs and allowable sign size. Haynes advised RBT Enterprises, the Petro developers, of the problem. They had not responded with a revised plan.

Geary introduced a discussion about when construction required a site plan. For an existing structure, a site plan was not required unless the footprint changed (i.e., the foundation size), Geary said. He pointed to circumstances not requiring a site plan where one might be recommended, for example, a business requiring more parking. On Rodman’s advice, the question will be redirected to the committee examining zoning related issues.

On the advice of city attorney Sam Elliott, the commission approved a zoning ordinance change removing the language requiring the city council to make certain findings before approving rezoning. According to Haynes, Elliott said the requirement was not common in other municipalities. The change will go to the council for final approval.

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