Residents of a Boyle County subdivision — who packed the meeting chambers at Danville City Hall on Tuesday — breathed a collective sigh of relief when Planning and Zoning declined a request to divide one of the neighborhood's lots. However, the man who said he was designing his dream home for the property believes his would-be neighbors had too much impact on the decision.
P&Z voted to deny Mark Walls' request to split the lot on which his mother Gloria Woodrum lives. The lot is located the corner of Venetian Way and Secretariat Drive in the Bluegrass Trace Subdivision, and Walls wants to build there.
P&Z based its decision on subdivision restrictions and a resolution allowing division of subdivision lots only when it conforms to subdivision regulations.
Walls first sought approval last month to construct the house on a .33-acre parcel of Woodrum’s existing .88-acre lot, but P&Z tabled the issue.
Walls has pointed out there are .31-acre lots in the subdivision already, but those who have opposed the plan point out most of those are in a different section of the neighborhood and lots of varying sizes were planned for their existing locations for a reason.
P&Z attorney Bruce Smith said P&Z boards, including the one he also works for in Jessamine County, typically try to avoid enforcing subdivision restrictions. However, he cited state law, also referenced by Kevin Nesbitt, attorney for longtime Bluegrass resident Hugh Mahon, which states subdivision regulations should take precedence if they impose a higher standard.
The subdivision restrictions for Bluegrass Trace, first enacted in 1975, state: “No tract shall be used except for single family residential purposes. No more than one residential unit shall be erected on each building lot shown by the plat.”
Commissioners also called on P&Z Resolution 950215, which sets out conditions that require final plat amendments. The resolution states:
“Divisions of lots within a recorded subdivision may be approved only if it is deemed by the Planning and Zoning Commission to be consistent with the character and size of other lots within the recorded subdivision. The lot being subdivided and the new lots being created must conform to all requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations at the time the division is requested.”
Shortly before the vote Tuesday, Walls said an attorney representing him could just as easily interpret the subdivision requirements in his favor. He pointed out there was no language in either P&Z regulations or the subdivision restrictions prohibiting what he is asking to do.
“If it was meant to say you couldn’t split lots it would have specifically said that,” Walls said.
Many of the same group of about 30 residents of Bluegrass Trace who showed up to speak vehemently against the move last month were again present Tuesday.
Residents expressed concerns about what the project would do to property values, since Walls would be building on a lot they say was intended for only one home. They also argued the additional structure would impact water flow in an area that pools during heavy rains. Walls and engineers he hired to present the plans last month said during the June meeting that storm water flow would be addressed.
Others have said they are unhappy about a plan to extend sewer service to the property along the road, which would require some excavation along the city maintained right-of-way.
Walls, an engineer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, who said he has worked extensively with planning and zoning boards in the past, was disappointed the request was turned down. He also was dismayed by what he felt was undue influence exerted by the vocal residents.
"I think the board was swayed by public opinion,” Walls said.
In an e-mail to The Advocate-Messenger, Walls said it was hypocritical for P&Z to do away with a perpetual green space easement, which cleared the way for Cheddar’s restaurant project on Walmart’s property, but not grant his proposal based on objections of what he said were only a handful of Bluegrass residents. He said P&Z appeared to vote the way it did to keep the crowd at the meeting happy, and based its decision on what Walls called “unethical” communications from property owners since the last meeting.
Several members of the P&Z commission expressed regret in declining Walls’ plans, but the vote was unanimous.
Walls said he has not decided what his next move will be.