​County Commission Grapples with Rezoning

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

September’s County Commission meeting saw the appointment of Carolyn Wiseman to the seat left vacant in District 2 after Director of Schools Stanley Bean’s departure in July.
Commissioner for District 3 Dave Van Buskirk, who nominated Wiseman, said she will be a great addition to the commission.
“Carolyn ran in the election last time against Stanley Bean and narrowly lost. This is basically the way the commission has replaced the candidates who move on, at least for the last two years. I know her very well from working with her through the Chamber of Commerce, and I know she is very passionate about Franklin County. She is very thorough on the things she investigates, and above all, she has great common sense. I think she will be a great addition,” said Van Buskirk.
Also heard at the meeting was the highly disputed request for rezoning by Woody Ashley of Woody’s Tree Service. The Franklin County Regional Planning Commission recommended the rezoning of 5.63 acres of land near Highway 64 from agricultural and residential to industrial.
Back in July, the county purchased land from Ashley to prevent the smoke from his tree service making its way through the county.
“He owned a parcel of land that joined the industrial park. He had the property up for sale. Purchasing the property did help the atmosphere in the park since he did burn there,” said County Commission Chairman Eddie Clark. “No one complained to me, but my understanding is that the high school is right behind it, so there were some complaints.”
John Meeks, a self-proclaimed lifetime resident of Franklin County, was against the rezoning.
“My property is the next house down, and in that area, within a half mile radius, there are three churches and approximately 30-35 homes. That’s where I was raised, that’s where I raised my family, and that’s where we’re raising our grandkids,” he said. “I don’t want to wake up in the morning and smell smoke. That’s why you moved it from Winchester. I oppose it, and I want it to be known that I do.”
Also against the rezoning was resident Randy Butner.
“The only objection is that we don’t need the health hazard going to all the homes. You know what it did to Medina Road. That smoke is going to go all over and surround even more than a half mile if the wind blows,” said Butner.
Russell Leonard, Ashley’s attorney, told the commission the land is needed for Mr. Ashley’s work.
“To prevent this gentlemen from operating his business is a bit drastic. There’s burning all over the county on occasion. I see it from where I live. There are all kinds of industries and individuals who burn often. I hope you would consider the need that this man has for disposing of these materials in a fashion that is not bad for the county and necessary for him to complete his work. Unless the county is willing to donate grounds for Mr. Ashley and others with a tree service, then I would suggest that burning is the most efficient and logical way to dispose of these things,” he said.
State representative and Franklin County resident David Alexander said his recommendation would be to vote no on the rezoning.
Ashley’s motion for rezoning failed.
“I’m happy that it was rejected and I don’t want to get up every morning and smell smoke. It affects the whole community. They bought the property to get rid of him, and they’re wanting to send him out to our area. They’re no better than we are. We’re tax payers just like them,” said Meeks.
Approved at the meeting was a contract between Franklin County and Simplex, a company specializing in sprinkler systems for protection in the case of fires.
“This has to do with the sprinkler system in the Senior Citizens’ Center,” said Clark. “Their system wasn’t working, and we have an agreement with these people in some other county buildings.”
Finance Director Andrea Smith said there is an annual maintenance fee over the length of the contract.
Several elections and appointments were made before the conclusion of the meeting.
Eddie Clark was appointed to serve another year as chairman. Angie Fuller was appointed as chairman pro temp. Lindsay Ladd was appointed to serve the rest of Brandi Scott’s term on the Animal Control Board. Barbara Lucas was appointed to a 4-year term with the Board of Zoning Appeals, and David James to the Regional Planning Commission.
The next county commission meeting will be Monday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.