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Winchester rezones land, acquires new first responder equipment, vehicles

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 1:19 pm

STAFF WRITER

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Winchester aims to move forward with two ordinances that will rezone parcels of land near downtown.

Ordinance #990 alters the status of two parcels on South Jefferson Street specifically referred to as the Master and Ballard properties. Each fall within an R-2 (residential) medium-density zone.

One property owner’s request to open a boutique on one of these parcels precipitated the change from r2 to an appropriate designation for commercial activity.

Change to a C-2 zoning or commercial highway service district designation would permit such commercial activity to take place on the property.

This was the final reading of Ordinance 900 which passed first reading on Jan. 10 and second reading at a special called meeting on Jan. 19.

Prior to the vote the floor was opened for a public hearing so that any citizens or residents could voice concerns or objections.

Ordinance 991 amended designation for a second land parcel owned by Eddie Fowler of Huntland.

The property, located at the corner of Fourth Avenue SW and Gin Street, is currently within an R-2 district. Fowler previously owned the property from 1999 to 2003 when he sold it.

Since that time it has changed hands, but Fowler repurchased it in 2015. For the past two years, Fowler has used it as a storage facility. The requested change would designate it as an I-1 or light industrial zone. This parcel is across the street from Marlin Steele’s salvage yard.

At the January meeting, Mayor Terry Harrell explained that special zoning exceptions approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals would be required unless the property is contiguous or adjacent to a property matching the desired zone.

Ordinance 950 prohibits salvage yards from operating in an I-1 zone. Steele’s business was grandfathered in because it was operational prior to Ord. 950’s passage. However, Steele could not purchase Fowler’s property in the future and annex it to expand the perimeters of his current business.

During that same meeting, Councilwoman Cile Alexander asked Fowler how long he intended to use the property for storage. Fowler replied, “As long as I own it.” It was agreed upon that should Fowler ever change his mind and sell the property, as would be well within his right, he must disclose the property’s restrictions to the future owner.

Like the rezoning on Jefferson Street, this also required three readings. The first two readings occurred on the same dates as Ord. 990. Following the public hearing, it also passed with only one dissenting vote from Councilman Bruce Spencer.

In other Winchester news, The Police Department has two new vehicles in their fleet, both 2017 Dodge Ram 4×4. Chief Young explained to the board that the purchases came at a time the department was in need of new wheels. With a recent cruiser’s engine failure, in addition to another for which Young had been seeking replacement since last October, the department was down two vehicles.

Funds for the two new trucks were allocated in the budget so no amendment will be required.

Fire Chief Gary Greeson announced that the Fire Department would be acquiring new air packs. Sealed bids were taken, and Greeson recommended the bid from Mid-South Emergency Equipment. Funds for the packs were budgeted.

On one final note, the council voted to reappoint Kay Caldwell to her position on the Winchester Planning Commission. Caldwell’s term was set to expire, but the board approved her reappointment after Councilman Gene Snead made the motion and Alexander seconded it. Ultimately, it met unanimous approval.