Council makes difficult zoning choice at hearing

By Jennifer Woods - [email protected]

A public hearing at Wednesday’s Washington Court House City Council meeting for the zoning of two lots involved various points of discussion from both council members and local residents.

Although the lot rezoning was voted down as the only council member who voted in favor of it was chairperson Jim Chrisman, if it had passed the plan of the owners was to build 15 apartments on 1.25 acres worth of land at the corner of Elm and Vine streets.

The owners of the two lots are JLB1 Properties. Speaking at the hearing in favor of the project was owner Jaret Bishop.

Locals who live near the lots who spoke at the hearing were concerned about the rezoning as they expressed beliefs that the apartments would bring in “undesirables,” lower property values and create problems with parking and traffic.

A few of those who spoke said they would not have purchased homes in the area if they knew it would be beside apartments, although they did appreciate the efforts of revitalizing the neighborhood.

JLB1 properties has bought land in that area and Bishop explained they planned on building other houses in the neighborhood but didn’t want to over-flood the market. Initially, when the lots were purchased, he explained it was in discussion to build homes with weekly rent but decided it would be best for the neighborhood to build apartments with monthly rent.

That rent, as Bishop explained, would have been $600 a month.

According to Bishop, they had decided to add in off-street parking — 36 spaces — to assist with parking concerns. He further explained that other houses he planned on developing in the areas would come with off-street parking.

Council member Dale Lynch asked the locals present if they would accept the apartments with the off-street parking. The locals expressed dissatisfaction with the apartments and said that another concern was the size of the lots versus the size of the proposed project. One local expressed the opinion that the property would be “cramped.”

Through further questions from council members, it was explored that trash pick-up would have been included, dumpsters did not have a pre-planned location but would have been added, playground equipment would not have been added due to liability, no sidewalks were planned to be added and that the proposal for the apartments was not drawn to scale.

Prior to voting, each council member made comments about the project, most of which explained that decisions such as these are difficult to make. Various reasons included that more housing is needed for growth, young people in the community need affordable housing, there is an effort to revitalize the neighborhood, etc. Many council members also noted that it is important to listen to locals who know their neighborhoods best, and that they were grateful for residents coming to the meeting and calling to share their viewpoints.

Although the rezoning request was defeated, council member Ted Hawk said to Bishop, “I hope Mr. Bishop you’ll revisit this, because we do need housing. I applaud you trying to do what you’re trying to do, so I would make it something that would be a little more agreeable with everybody.”

Council member Steve Shiltz also complimented Bishop on his work and his properties that have been built around town. Shiltz suggested that perhaps it just wasn’t the right neighborhood for multi-family apartments at this time.

Washington Court House City Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month at 7:30 p.m. They are located in the second floor council chambers of the City Administration Building, 105 N. Main Street. The public is welcome to attend and may sign up to speak before the council.

Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods. Woods | Record-Herald file photo

By Jennifer Woods

[email protected]