The City Council on Tuesday night took action on a Mountain Creek zoning case, though attorney Sam Elliott said it was "highly irregular and highly illegal."
The council voted 7-2 to instruct the city attorney to file a new zoning case on a section of the former Quarry golf course against the wishes of the owner of the property and the developer who plans to buy it.
Attorney Elliott said, "You have to make the zoning conditions at the time of the rezoning, not 17 years later."
Councilman Chip Henderson said he was taking the highly unusual action "after a great deal of agony, thought and reasoning."
He said he was acting in behalf of some 700 nearby residents who don't want apartments in their neighborhood of single-family homes.
It was noted that the property at the former golf course clubhouse on Read's Lake Road was earlier zoned C-1, then was changed by the city during a cleanup of hundreds of other C-1 and C-6 zones to C-2. However, C-2 allows apartments and C-1 did not.
Residents, including Rick Thompson, who lives across the street, said they did not get notice of the wholesale changes to C-2 17 years ago.
Councilman Henderson said he wanted to take the zoning back to what it was before the city action - when it allowed a restaurant with a bar and office use, but not apartments.
Owner Scott Norman and developer James Pratt, who has an option on the land, had attorneys to speak in opposition.
Attorney Tom Hazlett said the move was "a pretty extraordinary over-reach by the council."
He said, "Are you going to selectively target other property owners, who will have to hire lawyers to come up here and argue against it?"
Steve Hunt, speaking for the residents who more than packed the council chambers, said neighbors are "100 percent against rental homes in our neighborhood."
He said he was able to gain 400 names on a petition over one weekend and now has more than 700.
Mr. Hunt said, "There are 13 apartment complexes along Mountain Creek Road. Enough is enough."
Council members Darrin Ledford and Carol Berz abstained.
Councilman Ledford read a statement in which he said the action would set a precedent and possibly lead to hundreds of similar requests.
He noted that developer Pratt had withdrawn his proposal for a Planned Unit Development at the site, and "there are no plans in place right now."
Councilman Ledford said the two sides seem to be working cordially together and he is hopeful they will reach a resolution.
Councilman Jerry Mitchell said, "When mistakes are made, when does the council have an opportunity to correct a mistake?"
Councilman Russell Gilbert said the fact there was apparently no notice to the neighbors about the move to R-2 "is not fair to the neighborhood."