Loudon City Council tabled May 26 a rezoning ordinance for property near Highway 72.
Councilwoman Tammi Bivens and Councilman Tim Dixon motioned and seconded, respectively, to table the first reading of the rezoning until the next meeting to allow time for more discussion. The motion passed unanimously.
Loudon County Chamber of Commerce President Rodney Grugin went before council to show support for rezoning the property on Cedar Park Drive to an R-3 Urban Residential District.
The rezoning of property behind Burger King on Highway 72 has been tabled nearly two months. Loudon Regional Planning Commission unanimously recommended the rezoning, but the property needs council’s approval before it can be developed.
Bryan Petett, Coldwell Banker Wallace commercial real estate broker, is already developing a subdivision adjacent to the land. Rezoning the land would serve as an addition to the subdivision under construction.
Bivens and Councilmen Johnny James and Tim Brewster have opposed the rezoning.
Grugin went to the meeting to address the need for affordable housing in Loudon.
“In order for both the city of Loudon and Loudon County to continue to grow economically and increase their tax base, new residents and new businesses and industry must be added to the city and county population,” Grugin said. “Businesses will not come unless they see a demand for their goods and services. That demand is created by consumers who live and work in the city of Loudon and Loudon County. In order to live here, there has to be housing, and in order to work here, there has to be jobs.”
Grugin said businesses also need to see evidence of a “sufficient workforce” before considering a move to Loudon.
“However, they will come if they see that there is a plan in place to actively recruit that workforce,” he said. “That plan starts by creating affordable housing and by ensuring that we have great educational opportunities for not only the current workers, but for their children as well.”
Grugin said it is council’s responsibility to decide what is best for residents. He challenged members to “represent all of the citizens of the city of Loudon in an educated, non-biased manner.”
Brewster said his biggest problem is traffic. Before a final vote is taken, he wants the city or the developer to pay an engineer for a study to see how the new development will impact traffic.
“We need the houses, but we also need to be cautious on people getting killed on Highway 72 trying to pull out,” he said. “... I do not want another Highway 321.”
Bivens’ concerns were recently relieved after she spoke with Petett.
Petett will be present Monday for city council’s workshop in case additional questions arise.