Monteagle Planning Approves Hideaway Development with Conditions

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the March 7 meeting, after long debate, the Monteagle Planning Commission approved the site plan for the 82-lot Hideaway subdivision with site-plan modifications and conditional stipulations. The commission also voted to approve the site plan for a Taco Bell and to recommend the council adopt a zoning ordinance amendment that will allow alternatives to a 30-foot rear setback in some circumstances.

Residents challenged the initial motion to approve the Hideaway site plan expressing concerns about water and sewer capacity and excessive traffic at the Wren’s Nest Avenue entrance, especially given the motel proposed for a neighboring location. Town Planner Annya Shalun pointed out Monteagle Engineer Travis Wilson had recommended the Hideaway project satisfy two conditions: one, each lot have a sewer maintenance agreement regarding the sewer STEP system; two, lots crossed by the forced main must have an easement shown on the final plat. Planning Commission Chair Ed Provost noted concerns about traffic at the Wren’s Nest entrance had been discussed at the workshop prior to the meeting and a proposal made that the Wren’s Nest entrance be gated and for emergency access only.

The developer cited safety concerns for Hideaway residents if there was only one entrance and argued traffic from Hideaway would “migrate” to the Highway 41 entrance in the event of congestion at the Wren’s Nest entrance.

“We need to look at the best interest of the local people that have a history and established residence,” insisted commissioner Greg Rollins.

The original motion was withdrawn. The commission approved the Hideaway site plan conditional upon Engineer Travis Wilson’s two recommendations being met and using the Wren’s Nest entrance exclusively for emergency access.

The commission approved the Taco Bell site plan with only one change, the addition of a front sidewalk. The business will be located at the current Jesse’s Grill site.

The developer for a West Main convenience-retail market requested the ordinance amendment allowing the planning commission to consider a 12 feet by 50 feet loading and unloading zone as an alternative to a 30-foot rear set back for service when the property’s shape, size, topography, or other issues hamper construction, as is the case with the West Main property.

Commissioner Richard Black questioned amending an ordinance “to fit one location.” Commissioner Katie Trahan stressed changes to ordinances should be dictated by what is “best for the town.”

The developer argued amending the ordinance would “make wiggle room for small awkward sites” in the future.

Rollins brought up safety concerns raised at the Feb. 15 meeting about a vehicle fire in the drive-thru lane at the rear of the building. The developer acknowledged the business would only have one traffic lane but maintained fire hoses would easily reach to address a vehicle fire at the rear of the building and RBC National Association of Insurance standards did not require two lanes.

The commission approved recommending the council adopt the ordinance amendment, but the West Main project faces another hurdle, a Board of Zoning Appeals variance to allow for reduced setbacks on the three sides of the property with a right of way.

The commission discussed amending C-3 commercial zoning uses to allow warehouses, self-storage units and propane distribution. The zoning uses change was prompted by Dean Lay’s request to rezone C-3 property near I-24 Exit 135 to I-1 Industrial to accommodate a self-storage container business and a propane distribution business. A resident objected to the C-3 uses change. She said she did not oppose Monteagle having an industrial zone for manufacturing and self-storage, but she insisted the purpose of C-3 zoning was “to serve the uses of interstate traffic.” She pointed to possible fire hazards from propane tanks near the interstate and the unsightliness, at the approach to town, of the railroad cars proposed for self-storage use.

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