By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed an ordinance on final reading this week that re-zones a lot in the Old Town district.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Al Bell. The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Alderman Bethany Huffman abstaining and Alderman Thomas McGhee absent.
The ordinance was passed on first reading at the board’s Feb. 10 meeting.
The Millington Municipal Planning Commission unanimously recommended the re-zoning at its Jan. 21 meeting.
In May 2018, the board unanimously accepted the commission’s update to the city’s 20-Year Master Plan. It includes the Old Town district, which basically consists of the “triangle” formed by the intersection of Church Street, Navy Road and Easley Street.
Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, has said anything in the Old Town district that “touched” Navy Road was re-zoned OT, while the other property in that area remained B-2, General Commercial.
Three lots containing buildings are located at 7860 Leroy Boatwright St. Two of them front onto Navy Road and Boatwright, and there is a 0.378-acre “back lot.”
The owner requested that the back lot be re-zoned from B-2 to OT.
“Basically, the uses are the same,” Goforth has acknowledged. “But you get relief on your setback issues with the OT, because it’s designed more to fit on these older city lots.”
He has expressed “no problem” with the re-zoning, because the owner plans to demolish all three buildings and construct a single one.
The owner intends to remove the Cheers bar, liquor store and convenience store. The new building will house only the liquor store and convenience store.
Goforth has said he thinks the owner’s plan will serve as a “catalyst” to help encourage other people to redevelop their properties in that area.
The commission has selected revitalization of the Old Town district as its top priority for implementing the updated Master Plan.
The city established the district in 2009, and the board passed an ordinance in May 2019 that adopted regulations regarding permitted and prohibited uses, signage, design review and landscaping.
Until then, the underlying zoning classifications and regulations remained in effect for each parcel of real property within the district.
In January 2018, Goforth and the members of a Master Plan Advisory Committee agreed that the Old Town district should include all the commercial property in its B-1, Neighborhood Commercial, and B-2 zoning, while excluding the residential areas.
The updated Master Plan recommended that Chapter 23 of the Zoning Ordinance, also known as the Old Town Ordinance, be replaced with a revised version.
Goforth has noted that much of Easley Street was developed before the Shelby County government approved its first zoning ordinance in 1956. And the first portion of Navy Road was constructed like Easley, with the buildings “up on the street.”
Because most of the western part of Navy was developed under the zoning ordinances then in effect, Goforth has said it has large setbacks and large areas between the buildings.
He has noted that the 2019 ordinance allows the buildings to be closer, the way they were before.