By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Morgan County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the denial of two conditional use permits to allow the placement of manufactured homes on 701 Eliza Morris Street and 815 Pearl Street, Madison, after several members of the public spoke in opposition to the applications. The manufactured homes, which the applicant, Robert Benford, sought to have moved from a nearby parcel, are currently owned by Benford, and he indicated that he would purchase the property where the homes would be located from I.V. Henry if the conditional use applications were approved by the commission.

Benford also stated that the manufactured homes are in “very good shape to be moved.” Sherry Terrell of Madison was the first resident to speak out against the application, saying that the neighbors in that area have tried to “work very hard to try to clean up that area.” She said that the reputation of the neighborhood is currently “rebounding” and that it has suffered a “problem with perception” in the past. “I am certainly opposed,” said Terrell. “I think it will be detrimental to the neighborhood.” Avery Jackson was also opposed to the application based on the “reputation” that manufactured homes have.

He said that he is “not opposed to people having houses,” limiting his objection to the “type of structure” under question in the application. Jackson added that the approval of the conditional use permit would negatively affect the value of nearby homes. Carol Smith, a self-described “lifetime resident” of the area, said that allowing the manufactured homes to be moved would be an affront to the “emotional integrity” of the neighborhood. “We want to move up. We don’t want to regress,” said Smith. Jackie Foster, whose father, Ernest Jackson, owns the property where the manufactured homes currently stand, was also opposed to the application. “I don’t want to see my community go back to shambles because of manufactured homes,” said Foster. Commission Member Connie Booth said that she is “sympathetic” to the improvement efforts in the Canaan area.

Commission Chair Brian Lehman added that the commission “needs to be careful about what goes in” the neighborhood. The Planning Commission cited standards one, five, and 10 of paragraph 1125.5 of the ordinance, which relates to conditional use decisions to justify their recommendation of denial. Standards one, five, and 10 state that the proposed use should “not be detrimental to adjacent properties,” not “unconstitutionally diminish property values within the surrounding neighborhood,” and “not have a ‘domino effect’” in the surrounding area.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit to operate a wedding event facility at 3820 Reese Road. The applicant, David Thompson, stated that he constructed a facility for his own wedding on his 19-acre property last year and that he would like to open the facility up to other couples for their wedding ceremonies.

Ken Howard, a neighboring resident, objected to approval of the conditional use, claiming that the border of his property is only 50 yards away from the proposed facility site. Howard stated that the noise from the first wedding held at the facility was enough to shake the windows in his home. Booth stated that the county has a noise ordinance, which prohibits loud music after 11 p.m., and she said that it would be “incumbent” on the event facility owner to make sure that they do not violate that ordinance. Commission Member Wes Holt said that noise “has been an issue” with other venues in the county.

The recommendation for approval passed unanimously. The commission also unanimously recommended approval of a text amendment for the city of Madison, which would create “live/work” units as a primary residential use in the Professional/Limited Commercial (P2) district. Live/work units would allow property owners in the P2 district to mix professional and some residential uses in one building. The staff report states that the amendment “appears to be both suitable and economically viable” and that the use would be available to the approximately 100 properties that are currently zoned P2.