Archer Lodge leaders will not allow a storage facility next to a church.
In July, Mobile Fleet Services of Clayton asked the Town Council to rezone about five acres on Covered Bridge Road from agricultural and residential use to commercial use. But on Monday, the council, citing its land-use plan, traffic concerns and the unknown nature of the proposed business, voted 4-1 to deny the zoning change.
The council’s decision comes one month after neighbors opposed the rezoning request during a September public hearing. Most residents, like Covered Bridge Road landowner Johnny Mooneyham, said a business would not fit in well with the community.
“I don’t think it’s beneficial to rezone anyone from residential to business,” Mooneyham said.
Archer Lodge resident T.C. Hyatt agreed during the hearing. “It is not in keeping the town character rural, which is what the residents of Archer Lodge have said,” Hyatt said.
Since incorporating in 2009, the rezoning decision is the town’s first involving a request from residential to commercial use. The council’s vote upheld the recommendation of the town’s planning board to deny the application.
Councilman Carlton Vinson made the motion to approve the rezoning request but was the sole councilman to support it.
“We need business in this town,” Vinson said. “I’m having a hard time turning a business away who wants to be here.”
Councilman Clyde Castleberry, who voted against the request, said he wouldn’t have a problem rezoning the land so long as it was used for a storage business. However, he said, the commercial business designation allows for several uses, and that’s unsettling.
Unlike in other towns, Archer Lodge’s zoning ordinance does not include conditional-use or special-use rules, or tools that town leaders could use to limit the type of businesses allowed.
“To me, I don’t have enough information to change it to a commercial business without knowing what’s going to happen there,” Castleberry said.
While town leaders said they couldn’t know for sure what type of business would go up, Mobile Fleet Services owner Tom White said it “was definitely going to be a storage business.”
An Archer Lodge native, White said, “if you tell somebody what you are going to do, that’s what you are going to do.”
With his request denied, White said he would have to wait for the town to establish conditional-use or special-use rules. Either that, or file a financial-hardship claim.
The land, at 5562 Covered Bridge Road, is next to Clayton Community Church and across from a residential neighborhood.
“A mini-storage is not consistent with what’s currently there,” said Councilman Mark Wilson. “Some might think a church is not consistent, but it fits into a community environment.”
Wilson said he thinks the town should create a central business district to avoid “spot zoning.” But Vinson noted that no two businesses in Archer Lodge are within a half-mile of each other.
“Any business we put in is going to be spot zoning,” Vinson said.