Metro Council votes down R3 Zoning but “tiny homes” likely moving forward in another form

Park Model tiny homes on wheels like the one shown here could replace the site built homes original proposed by Oakstone Capital as the project moves forward. The existing zoning on the 48-site former RV park is already in place for this use. (File Photo)

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Council voted down the Metro Planning Commissions recommendation to add R3 -Medium to High Density Zoning to the Metro Zoning Ordinances on Monday by a 8-5 vote. Two Metro Council members were absent.

Tommy Brown made the motion to vote on the R3 Zoning issue and Peggy Blackburn seconded the motion. At the roll call vote, Shane Taylor, Amy Cashion, Denning Harder, Tommy Brown, and John Taylor voted in favor of the new zoning category and Keith Moses, Gordan Millsaps, Houston Lindsey, Sunny Rae Moorehead, Bradley Dye, Arvis Bobo, Peggy Blackburn, and Meghan Bailey voted against the motion. Wayne Hawkins and Gerald Burnett were absent from the meeting.

The Metro Planning Commission worked with two different lawyers and leadership in several surrounding counties to develop the R3 zoning ordinance draft. They developed it in multiple work sessions over the past several month and the draft before the Council on Monday represented hours of work. The goal of the R3 zoning category was to limit the numbers and make it where lots are individually sold and assessed, according to Mayor Lewis.

On August 17, the Metro Council approved the first reading by an 11-3 margin. On the first vote, John Taylor, Tommy Brown, Keith Moses, Denning Harder, Amy Cashion, Gordon Millsaps, Arvis Bobo, Bradley Dye, Houston Lindsey, and Shane Taylor voted in favor and Peggy Sue Blackburn, Sunny Rae Moorehead, and Wayne Hawkins voted against. Meghan Bailey was absent from the August meeting.

R3 zoning fails but “tiny homes” will likely move forward in another form

The council held a public meeting prior to the regular meeting where one citizen, Laurence Naumann, spoke against the the new zoning category stating that it would be “opening Pandora’s Box.” Metro Utilities Department Director Russell Sells spoke in favor of the motion stating that high density housing options like the Oakstone-proposed tiny home community are what’s needed inside the former Lynchburg city limits footprint in order to encourage growth, especially in the sewer customer base. 3

Following the meeting, Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis told The Times that she was disappointed in the vote.

Many opponents seemed to walk away from the meeting thinking they’d successfully killed the tiny home idea for Moore County, but that’s not true. Based on the precedent that the former owner used the property as a 48-site RV Park, Oakstone can now choose to bring in Park Model tiny homes on wheels instead of the site-built homes they’d proposed.

“We’ve done three of these in the Monteagle area. When we first started doing this, historically, tiny home communities were set up in RV and trailer parks. Those were Park Model homes. We could have gone into the existing RV park here in Lynchburg and done the same thing, but we’ve moved more toward site built homes on permanent foundations at this point. We feel it’s a better product and it’s better for the community,” Oakstone’s Chip Hayes told the Council in the August 17 meeting.

If Oakstone Capital foregoes the high end tiny home community and instead just replicates the RV Park that existed on the 23.56 acres tract prior to Oakstone’s acquisition, Metro will lose money, according to Mayor Lewis. In a community, the land underneath each tiny home belongs to an individual landowner and Metro makes money in the form of property tax. Additionally, each home would become a new sewer customer thus adding to the sewer customer base and lowering sewer rates for all customers. An RV park is owned in whole by the company and spaces are leased to customers. Because there are no permanent structures, it tends to produce much less property value and thus less property tax.

Oakstone can open a new RV Park featuring Park Model tiny homes in the former footprint of the 48-site Lynchburg Wilderness RV Park under the current zoning. The 23.56 acres lot is currently zoned for both commercial and agricultural/forestry use.

Oakstone representatives could not be immediately reached for comment on this story. •

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