Town Council defers rezoning request a second time

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 10:23 am

Ashland residents who oppose a commercial rezoning request on the western edge of town will have to wait until September to find out whether it will go forward.

Sumpter Priddy Jr. has applied to rezone this piece of property on Thompson Street to a B1 commercial designation. Nearby residents oppose the move.

Sumpter Priddy Jr. has applied to rezone this piece of property on Thompson Street to a B1 commercial designation. Nearby residents oppose the move.

Meeting Tuesday night, Town Council deferred for a second time a request from Sumpter Priddy Jr. to rezone the historic BP station on Thompson Street from its current residential R-2 status to B-1 commercial. The project has drawn strong objections from residents in the predominately residential area, who claim a commercial rezoning there would negatively impact their quality of life and sets a precedent for commercial activity in Ashland’s tranquil western gateway.

Though he was present at the meeting Tuesday, Priddy did not speak. During the July public hearing, Priddy told Council he has good intentions for the project. He also said, “I’ve had my shirttail yanked until it’s just about broken my neck,” suggesting the rezoning process has not been easy.

Priddy earlier this year, offered to the town an adjacent tract of land to be used for a future park in exchange for the town abandoning public right-of-ways on the piece of land.

The move to defer the project came at the request of the town and Priddy to allow more time to hash out issues raised by Council during a July public hearing.

According to Nora Amos, director of planning and community development, since that meeting, Priddy and the town have been working on issues related to hours of operation, lighting, transportation impacts and preservation of the historic building. In asking for the deferral, Amos told Council that no “formal” changes, or proffers, had been agreed upon or submitted to the town for consideration in time for the Aug. 6 meeting.

“I would ask that we get those changes made as quickly as possible to give people an opportunity to think about it,” said Mayor Faye Prichard.

Though the issue wasn’t a public hearing Tuesday night, Prichard allowed interested parties to speak.

Pat Morris, who lives near the proposed project, told Town Council that those who have banded together against the rezoning have nothing against Priddy.

“In all of the back and forth…it comes up over and over again that we’re against the applicant,” Morris said. “Our opposition is not about his character, it’s about the character of our neighborhood.”

“As one of our members said… ‘if Mother Teresa were asking for it, we’d still be against it,’” she added.

In making the motion to defer the project, Councilman James Foley told Council “we can’t keep deferring it.” During the July meeting, both Foley and Prichard voted against the first deferral.

Town Council will again take up the project when it meets Sept. 3.

Headlines of the Day