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Cherry Hill residents win rezoning battle

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By Alex Wimsatt

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - The Mount Washington City Council recently put to rest any hope of building a Dollar General store in front of the Cherry Hill subdivision in the near future.

Councilmembers drove the final nail in the coffin when they voted to accept the Bullitt County Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to deny rezoning 1.4 acres along Highway 44 near Pleasant Grove Elementary School. 

In addition to rejecting Gary and Brenda Owen’s request to rezone the property from Agricultural to B-1 Highway Business, the council’s decision effectively ended the four-month battle between the property owners and Cherry Hill residents. 

The Cherry Hill Community Association’s campaign against rezoning began in August when the planning commission initially sent a favorable recommendation to rezone the property from R-3 Residential to B-1. 

When the council voted to withdraw the zoning request in October after it was discovered the property was incorrectly listed as R-3 on the original zoning application, Cherry Hill Community Association President Chris Feldkamp said residents were prepared to fight again if the property owners reapplied.

Feldkamp said he and fellow residents were overjoyed when the planning commission voted to send an unfavorable recommendation to Mount Washington when the property owners took their second application to the commission in December.

“We knew with a no vote it would probably carry over to the city,” he said. “I can’t say we were surprised when the city accepted the planning commission’s recommendation, but of course we were very happy.” 

Feldkamp also said he was glad city officials opted to take a decisive vote on the recommendation instead of doing nothing, adding that he didn’t think the property owners would seek rezoning again.

“I couldn’t imagine them spending the time, money and effort to try again, but we’ll be prepared if they do,” he said. 

Feldkamp reiterated that the neighborhood association’s opposition wasn’t meant to be perceived as anti-Dollar General, but anti-commercial development, adding that many Cherry Hill residents would like to see one of the subdivision’s developers purchase the property for residential use. 

Before the council voted to accept the planning commission’s recommendation, city attorney Norman Lemme explained that council members had four options.

Lemme said they could take no action, in which case the recommendation would have gone into effect 90 days from the date the recommendation was signed by the commission chair, or, he said, they could simply vote to accept the recommendation.

Additionally he said council members could review the zoning case and reach their own conclusions based on the record, or they could hold a public hearing and act according to public sentiment.

Overturning the recommendation, Lemme said, would require a majority vote, adding that the mayor could not break a tie. 

Were council members to reject the recommendation, Lemme said their reasoning had to be sound. 

After some discussion, Councilman Barry Armstrong made the motion to accept the recommendation issued by planning and zoning. 

The motion passed unanimously.