Re-zoning hearing set for Munsford property

The New Albany Board of Aldermen will once again deliberate on the matter of a zoning change for a controversial piece of property on Munsford Dr. during the Aug. 5 meeting.

The aldermen approved the setting of a public hearing regarding the piece of property where Memphis asphalt co. Lehman-Roberts has intentions to relocate its Oxford plant.

The request was submitted first to the city’s zoning committee and then made to the board.

Allen Maxwell, Dr. Eric Frohn and others presented the request to the zoning committee. Maxwell and Frohn were plaintiffs in an injunction suit filed against the city of New Albany and Lehman-Roberts back in December in an attempt to block the location of the asphalt plant within the city limits, citing health concerns.

The case was to be heard in the Union County chancery court, but the judge overseeing the case ruled that it belonged in the circuit court.

Alderman-At-Large Dan Skinner asked City Attorney Bobby Carter whether or not the board was required to hold a public hearing because of land ownership issues.

“Do we have to hold this hearing?” Skinner asked. “They don’t even own this property.”

According to state and municipal laws regarding zoning, however, the applicant for a rezoning petition does not have to be the owner of the property.

“Personally, I don’t think it should be in there,” Carter said regarding this statute. “But, according to the law, they have the right to ask for a public hearing.”

State law requires that a rezoning request must show that there was either a mistake in the original zoning of the property or that there has been a significant change in the surrounding community to justify such rezoning.

According to Frohn, Maxwell and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the property was never zoned industrial officially and therefore the land’s current zoning status is a mistake.

New city of New Albany Fire Chief Jeff Hale also came before the board to request additional personnel for the fire department, citing safety concerns as a reason.

“Right now we are understaffed,” Hale said. “At one of our stations, we usually only have two men on duty, but that is a concern because it can potentially create a situation where the men become overworked. When you’re dealing with fighting fires, that’s not a good situation.”

Hale said the ideal number of staff for the department would be 24 men. Currently, the department has 16.

“We really need right now to hire someone to replace assistant chief Bobby Simmons who just retired and then three more men,” Hale said. “We’re not far from reaching our goal.

The board voted to give Hale permission to hire a replacement for Simmons and decided to take his request for an additional three men under advisement for further discussion.