More than 100 — perhaps as many as 150 — people in opposition to a proposed rezoning are expected to pack Thomasville City Council chambers Monday.
Listed on an agenda for a 7 p.m. council meeting is consideration of first reading of an ordinance to rezone property at 1101 Smith Ave. from R-1 to R-2 (CU). A. Wade Chastain made the rezoning request.
The Thomasville Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-3 Monday in favor of the rezoning request. The city council will have the final say-so on the request.
Bob Parrish, a nine-year planning and zoning commission member, resigned from the panel as a result of the vote and the way those in opposition to the rezoning were treated at the meeting.
Parrish lives in the neighborhood residents fear will be impacted by traffic from a proposed apartment complex. He recused himself and did not participate in the planning and zoning commission discussion or vote on the rezoning request.
For 31 years, Parrish and his wife, Janinanne, have lived at 205 Palm Drive. Their street intersects with dead-end Whitehurst Street, one of the streets residents fear would be most impacted by apartment complex traffic.
Chris Hall, who lives at 1701 Brown St., also a dead-ened street near the property, said an 80-unit apartment complex is planned for the site if the rezoning request is approved.
Frontage on Smith would be used for commercial purposes, Hall said. The apartment complex would be built farther back on the land.
Hall said City Manager Steve Sykes told him early last week the rezoning request would not go before city council for about two weeks. Residents of Hall’s neighborhood learned Friday night first reading of the proposed ordinance was on the Monday council agenda.
Hall said he has learned the item was added late Thursday afternoon at the request of developers.
Traffic from the apartment complex would be routed through Hall’s neighborhood, he said. Hall is not opposed to the apartment complex, but he and his neighbors are opposed to resulting traffic traveling through their quiet neighborhood.
“There are no apartment complexes brought into R-1 neighborhoods for access,” Hall, a broadcast engineer, said.
Brown Street, he explained, is 25 feet wide, and apartment complex residents probably would make 500 trips a day on the street.
“Right now on my street, there might be 15 trips a day,” Hall said, adding that a logical reason has not been provided for bringing the traffic through the neighborhood.
Hall said those attending the Monday planning and zoning meeting were not allowed to ask questions.
“We feel like our voices were not heard in the planning and zoning meeting. We feel the decision was made before we got there,” he said.
Hall has requested bylaws that apply to the planning and zoning panel. As of Saturday, he had not received them.
If necessary, opponents to the rezoning will retain legal counsel to look at how the planning and zoning meeting was conducted.
Children play ball in the streets, and people walk their dogs in Hall’s neighborhood. Crime is practically non-existent.
Hall and his neighbors think the neighborhood would change drastically if the rezoning is approved.
“It’s just been railroaded through,” he explained.
In addition to resigning from the planning and zoning commission because the panel did not listen to or care about citizens’ concerns, Parrish’s letter of resignation said he can no longer work with Brian Hermann, city planner, and does not want to hear what Herman has to say.
Parrish’s letter said his goal is to listen to those affected by rezoning.
Janinnane Parrish said the neighborhood in which she and her husband, Hall and many others live was established 65 years ago.
Pointing out that she is a fifth-generation Thomas countian, Janinnane Parrish said, “I don’t want some ‘expert’ from out of town ruining our town.”
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.