Board OKs subdivision on split vote

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 19, 2003

In a split decision Tuesday, aldermen approved a plat for acontroversial south Brookhaven subdivision.

Despite concerns from Alderman at large Les Bumgarner and Ward 4Alderman Bob Massengill, the vote was 5-2 to approve Steven andVictoria McKey’s subdivision development in the South Jackson andSouth Church Street area. Supporters said the couple had met allthe requirements for an R-1 zoned residential development.

“We’ve been elected to do what’s right, so let do what’s righttonight,” said Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson whileasking that “political agendas” be set aside for the vote.

Displaying a book with zoning regulations, Bumgarner maintainedthat the development will not fit with the character of theneighborhood. He indicated the vote would have city wideconsequences.

“You can take this book and tear it up,” Bumgarner said, addingthat he was not trying to delay the project but was concerned aboutother possible developments in the city. “I’m trying to keep fromgetting run over by a freight train.”

Bumgarner and Massengill, who represents the area in question,cited concerns from neighborhood residents about size of the homesand drainage. Plans are to have 12 lots on the property, with homesizes about 1,200-1,300 square feet.

“There hasn’t been a 1,200 foot home built in that neighborhoodin 30, 40, 50 years,” Bumgarner said.

Citing research on the area, Victoria McKey said 13 houses lessthan 1,300 square feet are within two blocks of the planneddevelopment.

Bumgarner, who lives on South Church Street, maintained thehomes in the immediate area are larger. He said his home is 2,500to 3,000 square feet, but McKey cited tax records showing it ataround 1,700 square feet.

Bumgarner said approving the plat would “open up a can of wormsthat is unbelievable.” He said the issue last night was not justabout the neighborhood in question, but any neighborhood in thecity.

“The calls that I’m getting are from those that are opposed toit,” Massengill said.

Bumgarner said his concern was that the development would notincrease the property value or sale value of other homes in theimmediate area.

“You should never, never do anything to decrease the value ofsomebody’s property,” Bumgarner said. “That’s what it’s allabout.”

Two weeks ago, aldermen delayed action on the subdivisionrequest and sent the matter to the Brookhaven Planning Commission.Following its meeting last week, the commission sent the matterback to the city board with no recommendation.

Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates said officials were finding thateverything was OK with the McKeys meeting city guidelines. Thealderman questioned why the plat approval could not be granted.

“Some people don’t like change, but we’re going to have to livewith change if we’re going to grow,” Bates said.

After the board’s discussion, Wilson offered a motion to allowthe McKeys to move forward. Five aldermen voted in favor whileBumgarner and Massengill were recorded as voting against themeasure.