Planners table rezoning request for apartments

MOUNT JACKSON – The Planning Commission put on hold Monday a property owner’s proposal to turn a house into apartments.

The commission voted to table Todd Holtzman’s request to rezone the former Masonic Lodge building at 5907 Gospel St. amid concerns raised about parking for the property. Holtzman, a former town councilman, recently bought the property for $35,000 from the trustees of the Mt. Jackson Lodge No. 103 A.F. & A.M. Holtzman owns the property under 5907 Gospel St. LLC.

The commission held a public hearing jointly with Town Council. Nancy Wealthy, a neighbor who lives next to the former Masonic Lodge, said during the public hearing on the request that she did not favor Holtzman’s proposed use and demonstrated that approximately two feet separate both properties. Wealthy pointed out that the Holtzman property lacks the space needed to provide parking for tenants of the apartments. Holtzman responded by concurring with Wealthy on the space problem and noted that he intends to seek approval for on-street parking for tenants.

Holtzman said he has a good relationship with Wealthy but pointed out that he didn’t speak to the neighbor before coming to the town with the request. Holtzman said that town regulations could allow him to turn the building into a large, single-family home with four or five bedrooms.

Commissioners and Holtzman pointed out that the building’s former use as a lodge sometimes drew dozens of vehicles. However, the one-way street is rarely full of parked vehicles, Holtzman said.

After the hearing, Town Manager Kevin Fauber suggested that the commission should table the request so officials can discuss the parking issue with Holtzman. The commission also could have recommended denial of the request and Holtzman likely would need to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals to obtain a variance to the town rules regulating parking for such an apartment building, Fauber said. The zoning ordinance requires a certain number of parking spaces for each dwelling unit.

The commission also held a public hearing jointly with the council on an ordinance that, if adopted, would amend and add sections of the town code pertaining to zoning regulations. The amendments and additions would affect industrial-zoned properties. The changes would allow certain uses by right without the need for a special permit. The commission voted 3-0 to forward the proposed changes to the Town Council with a recommendation for approval. Commission member Robert Whitehurst abstained. Council is expected to consider taking action on the proposed changes at its meeting next Tuesday.

Also at the meeting, commissioners selected member Whitehurst to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals. Whitehurst fills a vacancy created when Amanda Ludwig resigned from the Planning Commission. Town code allows a member of the commission to serve on the board.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or