Monteagle: Strategic Planning Questions and Answers

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the July 25 meeting the Monteagle Town Council took up multiple issues impacting strategic planning. The council heard a report from the committee charged with reviewing building codes and zoning ordinances, set in motion plans to hire a strategic planning consultant, and approved zoning ordinances for apartments and campgrounds.

In reviewing building codes and zoning ordinances from 2016-2021 and their impact, the committee chaired by Ed Provost observed half the zoning in that period could be regarded as “spot zoning.” Provost stressed the controversial practice raised the question, “If you’re helping someone out, are you having a detriment to anybody else?” Examining the tiny homes issue, the committee maintained “tiny homes” should not be looked at as “affordable housing.” The committee recommended increasing the tiny homes size requirement from a minimum of 400 square feet to 800 square feet. Acknowledging the $5,000-$10,000 cost of a site plan, the committee recommended prospective builders should be able to make an inquiry presentation to the planning commission before taking on the expense. For approved site plans, the committee recommended if the project did not begin within 12 months, the plan needed to be reviewed again. “The [Petro] truck stop would fall in that category,” Provost said. Central to strategic planning concerns, the committee recommended updating the zoning map and charging impact fees and tap fees to cover the expense of water and sewer infrastructure.

Reporting on the water and sewer capacity study underway for the past 18 months, engineer Travis Wilson said preliminary results would be available by mid-August. The city was not under a “moratorium” limiting water and sewer connections, Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman said, but, rather, was waiting on the results of the study. “We’re growing,” Rodman insisted. “We need to know we have the capacity.” Asked about water shortage due to dry conditions, utility manager John Condra said Laurel Lake had dropped two feet in the past three weeks and was down to 9 feet 8 inches. The “trigger point” for drought restrictions is 8 feet 7 inches. Fire Chief Travis Lawyer said there was not currently a “burn ban.” A burn permit was not required until Oct. 15.

Alderman Nate Wilson introduced a discussion about the need to hire a strategic planning consultant. “Zoning should be informed by strategic planning,” Wilson said. A strategic plan would consider police and fire protection, utilize water and sewer capacity data, and incorporate citizen input. The city budgeted $10,000 for a consultant. “We don’t know what the cost will be,” Wilson acknowledged and said it would depend on the amount of detail the city requested. Anticipating issuing an RFP to hire a consultant, the city will hold a workshop to determine what they expect from the consultant, the estimated cost, and to discuss possible grant opportunities.

The council approved on first reading an ordinance amendment allowing apartments in C-2 zoning as a special exception on review. Alderman Wilson noted he initially objected when the council previously discussed apartments in C-2, because the amendment did not include the “upon review” clause.

The council approved on second reading allowing campgrounds in R-3 zoning as a special exception on review. Provost commented Monteagle building codes governed campground developments.

The council also approved a resolution to adopt a consultant selection policy consistent with Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) guidelines. The resolution will allow the multi-modal grant negotiated in 2019 to move forward, Alderman Wilson said. Change in TDOT administration has slowed the process.

Signature Health Care will host a Jeep Invasion at 3 p.m., Saturday, July 30, featuring jeeps, vendors, and face painting. All proceeds will benefit restoration of Hannah Pickett Park.

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