Metro Council adds R3A category to Metro Zoning

A tiny home sits at an Oakstone Capital owned development in Tracy City. The R3A zoning category evolved after Oakstone’s Chip Hayes requested a special zoning exception for a proposed tiny home community here in Lynchburg but nothing in the current zoning ordinances fit. (Photo Provided)

LOCAL NEWS — After nearly a year, the Metro Zoning Ordinances now contain a category for medium to high density development in the county, R3A.

The R3A zoning appeared as one of two third readings on the January agenda after the Metro Council voted to delay both in December. The other was the Brown-Forman rezoning request. Those votes were delayed due to the fact that only 10 of 15 Metro Council members were present at the regular December meeting. Gerald Burnett, Amy Cashion, Tommy Brown, Bradley Dye, and Houston Lindsey were all absent at roll call in December. No reasons were given at the meeting for any absence.

All 14 current members were present at the January meeting. Fifth district council member Tommy Brown died on January 9 leaving a vacancy on the Council.

Issue on Metro agendas since May

The medium to high density zoning question appeared before either the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), the Metro Planning Commission, or the Metro Council nearly a dozen times since it originally stalled in a BZA special meeting last May.

In that meeting, Oakstone Capital’s Chip Hayes requested a special zoning exception for a proposed tiny home community named Retreat at Whiskey Creek. That parcel of property already possesses zoning to allow an RV Park but Hayes wanted to move forward with plans to build site-built tiny homes in that same footprint and there was nothing in the current zoning ordinances that fit. In that meeting, Chair Keith Moses explained to Hayes, in front of a capacity crowd, that the “board serves in a judiciary role” not an executive one — essentially sending the issue back to the Metro Planning Commission.

Over the next several months, the Metro Planning Commission worked through multiple work session with two different lawyers and leadership in several surrounding counties to develop the R3 zoning ordinance draft. That draft came before the Council in three separate iterations before finally reaching an approved third reading nearly nine months later as R3A.

One of the sticking points from the process was the insistence that any new medium to high density developments be located “adjacent or near urban areas, where an adequate public water and public wastewater service is available” so that multiple similar developments didn’t pop up “all over the county.”

During last Monday’s meeting, Hayes told the Council that there were very few properties that would meet this requirement.

“Very few properties in Moore County match that description,” he said. “It would be very cost prohibitive to develop out in the country. It’s why we bought this piece of property because of its location near those things.”

Another issue brought up by Council member Sunny Rae Moorehead was the lack of enforcement capacity in the county should the Council approve the new category.

Mayor Bonnie Lewis reminded the Council that they’d voted down adding Metro Building Codes the last time Metro officials brought it before them.

“We did add the ability to fine individuals per day for infractions earlier this year and Metro Codes Enforcer Christine Pyrdom handles multiple complaints each month.”

“I think it’s been established that we have someone fulfilling that roll,” answered Shane Taylor. “There are subdivisions popping up all over this county and I really don’t see how things like a tiny home community are all that different.”

In the end, the second reading passed by a nine to five vote with Houston Lindsey, Shane Taylor, Amy Cashion, Gerald Burnett, Denny Harder, Bradley Dye, Peggy Sue Blackburn, Meghan Bailey, and John Taylor voting yes and Keith Moses, Gordon Millsaps, Sunny Rae Moorehead, Arvis Bobo, and Wayne Hawkins voting against. The third reading passed by a nine to five margin along identical roll call votes.

Even though the new R3A zoning is officially on the books, it doesn’t mean that the flood gates are wide open for any medium to high density development, including the proposed tiny home community. This type of development will still need to appear in front of the Metro Planning Commission and/or the Metro Council to have rezoning requests approved. •

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