Residential store plans uncertain

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Owners’ efforts to modify a Natchez Avenue business remain inlimbo due to the plan’s violation of residential zoning codes forthe area.

Arvinder and Surinder Uppal, owners of the City Mart at theintersection of Natchez Avenue and Zetus Road, spoke to cityofficials about their plans during Tuesday’s board meeting. Theplan involves replacing old-style gasoline pumps and installing alarger canopy with more lights.

However, city officials said the business is a non-conforminguse that was allowed to continue in the R-1 residential area afterit was annexed in 1972. Building Inspector Walter Temple and CityAttorney Joe Fernald said there are no provisions in zoningordinances to allow for the building’s enlargement or modificationsbeyond its existing area.

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Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes also pointed out neighbors’concerns about protecting the integrity of the residentialneighborhood. The R-1 designation is the strongest and mostprotective of the city’s zoning rules.

Estes was supportive of efforts to improve the business, butonly under current guidelines.

“We’d love to see that building improved, but is has to beimproved within the parameters of our ordinances,” Estes said.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell, a former member of the cityplanning commission, urged approval of the Uppals’ plans.

Maxwell called on Estes to work to find a way to rezone theconvenience store area. Fernald, however, said that would be “spotrezoning” and is unconstitutional.

Estes’ motion to reject the Uppals’ request was defeated by avote of three for and four against. Maxwell and Aldermen DorseyCameron, Terry Bates and Mary Wilson opposed the motion.

“I don’t think we’re being fair not to do that,” said Cameron,who requested a special meeting so the board could have moreinformation on which to make a decision.

With the goal of allowing more discussion in mind, Mayor BobMassengill vetoed the board action.

“The board seems to be trying to find a way to accommodate youas best they can,” Massengill told the Uppals.

Officials planned to discuss the situation again during aninformal gathering at 6 p.m. before the next city board meeting onJune 20.