Whitwell public hearing tonight

Published 10:55 am Thursday, July 9, 2015

The public will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on developer Jack Hager’s request to rezone the Whitwell School from a Residential-2 to a Residential-3 in order to create 25 apartment units for seniors and veterans. The hearing was originally scheduled for June 25.

Hager, who also owns the building, originally proposed his idea in 2012 and has said there is a strong need for housing these demographics.

“Anyone interested in this issue, please attend the meeting,” Mayor Rich Blankenship said. “The planning commission did not favorably recommend the rezone to council and the ordinance (Ordinance 15-17) was tabled. It is up to council to decide whether or not to un-table the ordinance and vote, or let it remain as a tabled ordinance.”

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If Hager eventually gets the needed rezoning, the 11,000 square-foot school building would become one-bedroom efficiency apartments available to those 55 and older and veterans with a parking lot in the back.

At a late April planning commission meeting, several residents spoke against Hager’s plan, and the planning commission voted to unfavorably recommend rezoning the school to council. Without the change in status, Hager can still convert the school into apartments, just not nearly as many units.

The public hearing will begin at 5 p.m. in the council chambers on the third floor of the city center.

A finance committee meeting is also scheduled for 4:45 p.m. where city finance director Kristen Martin said she is seeking a recommendation from the finance committee on Ordinance 15-28, providing for the issuance of a $136,000 bond by the city for acquiring a refuse truck, authorizing sale of the bond to the county treasurer and declaring an emergency, before the first reading of the ordinance is given at the regular city council meeting at 6 p.m.

Also on the agenda for the regular city council meeting is the second reading of Ordinance 15-24, amending the annual operating budget for the city for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31 and declaring an emergency and the third reading of Ordinance 15-23, approving and adopting the countywide natural hazards mitigation plan prepared by URS Corporation.