Neighbors Oppose Up To 300 New Apartments In Red Bank; City Manager Smith Gets New 3-Year Contract; Commissioner Welch Moving To California

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - by Gail Perry

A public hearing regarding a rezoning request drew a full house to the Tuesday night Red Bank Commission meeting. Due to the developer asking for a postponement for the second time at the last minute, the hearing did not take place. Citizens of Red Bank who came in protest of the rezoning were given time, however, to express their concerns over the project and how it would change the quality of the life in their neighborhood.

Bell Development owns14 acres near the Ridgemont Apartments that is currently zoned R-3.

Jay Bell is seeking to rezone to R-3 another adjacent acre and a half for a new apartment project.

Mr. Bell said getting the rezoning on the acre and a half would not affect the entrance to the planned apartments. He said it was needed to make it a better project by spreading it out and having more open space.

He said the delay was to give more time to study and to be able to give better information to Red Bank officials.

He said the project, which he would not build himself, would be less than 300 new apartments.

Neighbors said a project of up to 300 additional apartments means 600 additional cars coming and going daily.

At the meeting it was explained that to access the site, the developer has requested a zoning change for two lots on Ashmore Avenue currently with R-1 designation, to R-3 in order to build a 23-foot-wide entrance into the proposed apartment complex.

The single-family homes surrounding the lots in question are in an old, established neighborhood on a street that one speaker referred to as a “recreational route.” Many who addressed the commissioners spoke of the abundance of people on the street jogging, biking, walking dogs or pushing strollers. The newer residents in the neighborhood said they chose it because the area is quiet and safe.

Long time residents ranging from six to 76 years said they want to maintain the lifestyles they have enjoyed. One speaker has lived in the same house 76 years. She said that she has observed a complete turnaround in the area with new people who really seem to care about the neighborhood.  She told the commissioners that now she feels safe working in her yard even after dark. Another who has lived in his home for 73 years said his father was a past chief of police in Red Bank. He said this area was one of the oldest in the city and that it is a community and not a commercial zone.

If re-zoning is approved to allow 600 additional cars coming and going on Ashmore Terrace, added to the huge number of transient residents living in the nearby apartments, these homeowners were all in agreement that their quality of life would be impacted negatively. There are security concerns in addition to the increased traffic issues. A petition signed by 125 people was presented to the commissioners with the promise that gathering names would continue until the public meeting occurs. It is now scheduled to take place at the commission meeting March 18.  

Mayor John Roberts announced the formation of a zoning review board which is tasked to create a land-use study. Five people were appointed Tuesday night to the board that will put together a future plan for the city concerning zoning and land use. The appointees were chosen from all over the city and all with different backgrounds. Billy Cannon is an engineer, Mike Congdon, a business owner, Thomas Glover is in real estate, Carol Rose a citizen, and Jamie Breneman, a contractor, will all bring something different to the board, said the mayor.

 City Manager Randall Smith came to Red Bank over one year ago, and Mayor Roberts said  he has done an outstanding job and that the city is extremely pleased and wants to keep him. Vice Mayor Floy Pierce added that he returns calls, is always eager to help, keeps the commission informed and runs a tight ship. Up until now, he has been working on a one-year trial period. A unanimous vote to issue a three-year contract for his services was approved by the commissioners.

 To accommodate zero lot-line developments, the city amended a zoning ordinance to establish new side yard set-back distances. Six feet will now be the distance required from a house to the lot line. Twelve feet will now be the required measurement between houses.

 Commissioner Ken Welch announced that he has accepted a position that will require a move to California and so will be leaving his position as city commissioner. Mayor Roberts praised him saying that he made the other commissioners “think outside the box.” He thanked Mr. Welch for his service and told him he would be truly missed. The last commission meeting he will participate in will be March 4.

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