After months of debate, resubmitting plans and failed proposals, two apartment developments were approved by the Lebanon Planning Commission this week.
Although the plans of both projects remained the same, the biggest changes were on the committee itself, with the appointment of a new member, the presence of one and absence of another.
The Pointe at Five Oaks, a 300-plus unit complex, passed by a margin of 5-4, with the motion for approval coming from committee member Rick Bell, who was absent at the October meeting, after he made a few remarks.
He did acknowledge the concerns of neighbors, but admitted that not all plans make everyone happy.
"I was not appointed to this committee to ride the fence," Bell said. "I was appointed to make decisions."
Planners Mike Walls, David Taylor, Kathy Adams and Bell voted in favor of approving the project, with the deciding vote being cast by newly-appointed member Larry Hubbard.
Those voting against the project were Beulah Garrett, Pam Black, Bernie Ash and Dan Mack.
The project did not receive a motion for approval during October's meeting, and was resubmitted again this month.
City officials were fearful that if not approved, the developer could sue the city for infringement on their right to develop their property that met all zoning requirements.
The project was originally brought before planners in August, then withdrawn twice to make amendments to the development, most notably adding a second entrance and exit directly onto Highway 70 in addition to the entrance on Five Oaks Blvd.
The second plan that received approval was The Ridge at Lebanon, a 90-plus unit apartment complex to be located on the land between the Jimmy Floyd Family Center, Sellars Funeral Home and Fairview Ave.
Although several neighbors spoke up against the project that received a 4-4 non-approval during the October meeting, the committee voted again this month, this time in favor of the project by a margin of 6-3.
According to Lebanon Planning Director Paul Corder, the plan was able to be resubmitted after a non-approval because the City of Lebanon has no regulation on how long a developer has to wait to resubmit a plan that does not receive an approval.
And although the plan remained the same, the changes on the committee marked the biggest difference again. Walls, Hubbard, Bell, Taylor and Adams voted to approve the project, as well as Dan Mack, who originally voted no in October. Garrett, Black and Ash cast the three dissenting votes.
In other actions, the committee unanimously approved the plans for the Empower Me Center, a large facility located next to University Medical Center that would become the new home to Empower Me Day Camp, which currently meets at the James E. Ward Ag Center.
The plan includes a large indoor recreation area, main facility, several outdoor recreation areas and resident cottages for young adults with mild disabilities.
Several families with children who are part of the organization were present to show support for the project, many in tears after its approval.
Director Michelle Hill said the group hopes to have part of the facility complete by next summer in time for the organization's annual summer camp.
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