In her article entitled: "
1st Vote On Controversial Signal Mountain Grocery Proposal Set June 13…,” Gail Perry wrote:
"A town ordinance requires that a decision is made in response to a zoning request within 90 days of the time that the council receives a recommendation, either for or against, from the planning commission.
In that time period, there must be a public hearing which has to be advertised 15 days in advance, and a first and second vote. The council received the recommendation to deny the rezoning request on May 14, making Aug. 14 the deadline.”
It is safe to assume that Ms. Perry accurately reported the discussion at the Town Council May 25 agenda meeting; however, the interpretation given at that meeting of the ordinances on rezoning is simply wrong. The Signal Mountain Town Council is being misled into what could turn out to be a major and majorly expensive mistake - voting on The Keith Corporation’s proposal to decide unilaterally what the Town of Signal Mountain should look like should their 38,000 square foot big box Food City development take hold.
There are many substantive reasons why this rezoning request should fail on its merits, but the procedure used to date has already decided the issue for the Council - it is out of time and may not be approved.
The quoted language from Ms. Perry’s article misinterprets the governing ordinances. There is no ordinance requiring any decision to be made in any time frame, let alone the one being used to mash this square peg into the round hole of the law. The 90 day period comes from Zoning Ordinance 1802.04, but all it requires is that a public hearing be set within 3 months of the Town Council receiving the Planning Commission’s “recommendation.” In the parlance of these ordinances, however, the Planning Commission has never “recommended” anything about this rezoning request. What the Planning Commission did at its April 5 meeting is “disapprove” the rezoning request. Under Ordinance 1802.02, then, it was incumbent on the applicant to request and secure a “favorable vote of a majority of the entire membership” of the Town Council to approve the rezoning within 30 days of submitting the request to the Planning Commission. The applicant failed to do so, rendering the request moot and out of time.
I know. I sat on the Planning Commission for over 8 years and participated in that April 5 vote. Also, I’m a lawyer and able to read the plain language of the governing ordinances for what it is - a declaration by the Town of Signal Mountain that the Land Use Plan is to be honored, that rezoning against the grain of the Land Use Plan is disfavored and that failure to follow the ordinances precludes further action on the request by the Town Council.