A plan to close Lake Street beside the County Judicial Center may not go as smoothly as local officials had envisioned, since it is facing opposition from neighborhood residents.
William Cartmell of Upton Heights told the Lebanon City Council Tuesday night that he and his neighbors oppose the closing of Lake Street between Baddour Parkway and Rogers Avenue, which has been proposed so that the land the street runs on can be traded to the county.
No one in Upton Heights, including the director of public housing, has been notified of the city and county's plans to exchange property and close Lake Street, Cartmell told the councilors and Mayor Philip Craighead.
He brought a petition with a page and a half of signatures from area residents, and said he has only started collecting names. "Older people use that street to walk to the store," he said. "Church people use it to get home after church."
Vital for emergency vehicles?
Cartmell also said that Lake is the only street leading into Upton Heights that is wide enough for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
The mayor told him no notice has been sent yet to area residents because the issue isn't even on the City Council agenda yet.
City Engineer Jeff Baines told Cartmell after the meeting that there would have to be two readings of an ordinance and a public hearing on it before any changes could be made, and that his department wants other streets coming into the area widened and improved before this one could be closed.
The issue first came up at Monday night's County Commission meeting, where the commissioners voted 23-0 on first reading, with District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford abstaining, to trade other property with the City of Lebanon for Lake Street.
The county is offering its Old Court House property on the southwest corner of the City Square for Lake Street. But the county commissioners only voted, in essence, to make the offer to trade - their vote was conditional on the city accepting the deal.
The trade would allow the county - which already owns the land on both sides of Lake Street - to use the street property to expand parking or, possibly, to expand the Judicial Center itself.
Rezoning also opposed
The City Council also heard protests Tuesday night against a rezoning request to change 5.64 acres at 4206 Leeville Pike from R-1A - the lowest density residential - to B-3, or restricted business.
Resident Tom Murphy told the council, "If we mix commercial with residential, it will deter growth."
Chrissy Nixon agreed. "We want homes, not commercial there," she said. Other residents speculated about what possible motive the owner might have in asking for a zoning that allows gas stations, drive-ins, boat and marine storage and a wide variety of other commercial development.
In the end, Councilor Bernie Ash - who represents Ward 4 where the property is located - asked to have the decision deferred until the first meeting in February so he can study it further and report back to the council.
Ash was also named by the mayor to represent the council on the Lebanon Planning Commission, with the council unanimously approving.
Warmath named mayor pro tem
Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath was nominated for mayor pro tem by Craighead and approved by the council by a vote of 5-1. Ward 5 Councilor Tick Bryan voted no, saying, "I won't vote for someone for mayor pro tem that I wouldn't vote for, for mayor."
Council unanimously passed, on second reading, the change of zoning from B-1 local business to B-3 that Sonic Drive-In at 524 W. Main requested to allow the drive-in to expand.
Council also approved, on second reading, the purchase of nine new police cars and a used one-ton flatbed dump truck as a replacement vehicle at the Public Works Department.
Council approved, on first reading, certificates of compliance for Southern Spirits Discount Liquor and Wine at 1150 Sparta Pike and E. High Wine and Liquor at 126 E. High St.
The council also voted unanimously, on first reading, to transfer $6,000 to a fund to pay the city's contribution to natural gas for the Veterans' Memorial Flame.
Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.