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Richmond Hill approves rezoning
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In a brief meeting, Richmond Hill city council members approved rezoning of a 353-foot tract of land near the intersection of Cherokee Street and Hwy. 144 on Wednesday.

The property was rezoned from single family residential to neighborhood commercial. The property's owners had earlier pulled the zoning request from the agenda in July after a recommendation of disapproval from both the Planning and Zoning Board and staff and opposition from one of the neighbors.

The land was inherited by the four children of Doris Appleby, who recently passed away. One residential home, where Appleby lived, sits on the property. The new owners plan to eventually develop the land commercially, although there are no current plans on the table.

Before requesting disapproval in June, the P and Z Board discussed how the tract is too deep.

They considered talk about subdividing the lot and keeping the commercial border in line with the neighboring C-1 (neighborhood commercial) zones and leaving a small portion of this lot to the rear as residential.

After neighbor Ron Denmark spoke in opposition to the rezoning before city council in July, when the issue first appeared before council, the property owners withdrew their request. Denmark said the tract is too close to his home to be commercial, it would cause increased traffic and could prompt other tracts in the area to also go commercial.

Denmark did not appear at Tuesday’s meeting. The reason given for July’s withdrawal was in order to give council more time to review the plans and the letters of approval that were collected from other neighbors.

"I hate to force someone into subdividing a property just to conform to something that we think will match the community in the future," councilperson JoAnn Bickley said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Floyd Hilliard concurred with Bickley and added that the city’s long term use plan shows commercial properties in that area beyond the current borders. He also said that, if they only rezone to match the borders of other outlying commercial properties, the property owners are left with a small tract that might be left undeveloped.

In other business:

- City Manager Mike Melton said Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar has been out sick with pneumonia, including hospitalization. Scholar said his health is improving and he plans to return to work on Monday.

- Council approved the lease agreement for the two new Harley Davidson patrol motorcycles for the RHPD. Melton said the bikes have arrived and will hit the street as soon as they are equipped. The city will pay $310 a month for each Harley cycle. Two Johnny Pag-brand motorcycles recently hit the street, bringing the total to four new RHPD motorcycles on the force. This is the first time the RHPD has utilized motorcycles.

- Two alcohol licenses were approved. The store at KOA Campgrounds can now sell beer and wine while Beef ‘O’ Brady’s can now sell liquor in addition to beer and wine.

- Council approved a resolution to establish an Affordable Housing Task Force. They approved an allocation of $15,000 to it and appointed 15 residents to it. Appointed were Melton, Scholar, Hilliard, Jan Bass, Derrick Smith, Nevin Patton, Kittie Franklin, Wendy Sims, Brad Brookshire, Jeff Morton, Jeff Whitten, April Groves, Wayne Jackson, Marilyn Hodges and Billy Albritton.

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