The Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission voted 5-3 Wednesday to continue the public hearing on an application to rezone 3.4 acres located at 1442 Delaplain Road in Oxford from A1 agricultural to B1 business. The vote came after extensive public comment from neighbors of the property, which is currently the site of the old Oxford School House and Graves Lumberyard.
Applying for the zone change were property owner Charles “Pokey” Graves and his business partner Larry Ledbetter who hope to convert the existing FFA building on the site to a cigar and bourbon lounge under their business Leaf and Barrel.
Larry Simpson, who lives on Oxford Village Lane, asked the commission to unconditionally deny the application.
“You can call it a lounge but it’s a bar” said Simpson.
The sale and consumption of alcohol was a major concern despite assurances from Graves that any alcohol consumption would be secondary activity.
“A bar is not what this is, this is a place to go to smoke cigars” said Graves.
Most of the residents did not appear to be interested in the difference, stressing that new development in the mostly residential neighborhood is not appropriate.
“We don’t need business because we are now a residential neighborhood, come out and look” said Kimberly Lynn who said she has lived in the neighborhood for 24 years. “You can come sit in my yard and it’s like a Normal Rockwell painting.”
Lynn said she believes the business would hurt the tight knit community and was especially worried about alcohol consumption.
“I don’t want my kids on streets where people have been drinking and driving” she said.
Other concerns cited in the discussions included sewage, noise, light pollution, fire safety, and traffic.
The application did not include a development plan as the applicants did not propose to add any additional structures at this time, although a development plan would be required should they add parking or an outdoor deck, the possibility of which was discussed.
Attorney Zach Cato, on behalf of the applicants, stressed his clients are willing to work with planning staff to ensure any changes including lighting and signage are appropriate for the neighborhood which is in a national historic district. He suggested a site visit with planning department staff to go over screening, parking, and lighting concerns and stated that the 1,400 square foot building would have a limited capacity.
Georgetown-Scott County zoning regulations governing the treatment of historic buildings only apply to buildings on Main Street between Warrendale Street and Montgomery Avenue. The Oxford schoolhouse, while listed as a contributing building to the Oxford Historic District, is not governed or protected by local regulations. At this time the applicants are not proposing any changes to the schoolhouse although a zoning change could open the door for other uses in the future.
The planning commission will continue the public hearing at their next meeting after the applicants and the neighbors of the property meet to further discuss the neighbor’s concerns.
Other actions taken by the planning commission include:
— Approved a preliminary development plan for R&L Carriers south of Cherry Blossom Way Spur.
— Approved a preliminary development plan for 4 Seasons All Outdoor at 743 Lisle Road.
— Approved preliminary development plan for a new cell tower at 1863 Burton Pike.
— Approved preliminary development plan for two restaurants (drive-through) at Crosswinds Center on Cherry Blossom Way.
— Continued the public hearing on proposed ordinance text amendment dealing with short term rentals to allow the Georgetown-Scott County Tourism Committee to discuss at their Nov. 17 meeting.
Elizabeth Morey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.