Rezoning application should not be denied

Published 6:27 pm Friday, April 14, 2017

This past Tuesday a rezoning debate unfolded before the Bainbridge Planning Commission. The commission’s vote was not the final say in the matter, but it was a recommendation to the city council on how they should vote.

The commission voted to deny the rezoning application based on nothing except the hearsay of residents and the speculation of events. The board voted to deny the rezoning application despite their role being to judge these applications based on legality and property, not opinion of public.

Under pressure from the public, the board folded like a piece of paper, despite the efforts of Chairman Frank Flowers. Dr. Flowers stated to the board before the vote that they should consider their role on the grounds of legality, but the board failed to do so.

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In the grand scheme of things, this is not a very important issue. Whether or not a Dollar General is located at the intersection of Randolph Court and Highway 84 is something that simply does not matter. What does matter is that the board was bullied by public participation into a decision without consideration of their role.

Governments are supposed to represent the people, and I agree with hearing what the public has to say on issues. However, when the public has no legitimate argument other than “we don’t want it,” the government is supposed to do the ethical thing, which would be to view it on the grounds of legality.

The rezoning in question complied with everything the city could have ever asked for to be granted approval. They provide driveways in and out on two sides of the site, they planned on using masonry for the façade of the building to give it a better look and are leaving 158 feet of woods undisturbed to provide a buffer between the store and the neighborhood behind it.  There was no reason for the commission to deny this application.

Had the public participation come forward with legitimate reasons to deny the application, citing zoning violations or other data then that is another story. However, one participant told the board that a reason it should be allowed was that the original property owner told her before she died that she wanted a retirement home on the lot, not a Dollar General. Hearsay.

The point is this, if it is inadmissible in a court of law, it should not be considered to affect the decision of a government body.