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Spooky assignment: investigate pet cemetery rules planning director told

Planning commission approves unusual Highway business to residential request


planning-map

The property in red has been recommended to be rezoned to residential by the planning commission.


    Planning and Development Director Richard Osborne got an assignment Monday that is very appropriate with Halloween approaching – research pet cemetery rules.
    Osborne told the planning commission at their October meeting that he had been contacted by Stanley Morris, of Philadelphia Road, inquiring about the county’s position on a pet cemetery.


    Osborne said this would be a true business where people can bury pets. He said any new rules or policies that might be created would not impose on anyone’s ability to bury their own animals in their backyards.
    After some discussion, Osborne characterized the commission’s position as a “slight trend towards negative.”
    But Commission Chair Bill Cagle and member Pat Holmes both responded they aren’t negative as pet cemeteries seem like a solid business, but they do have some concerns.
    The prime concern expressed by several commission members was how the pet cemeteries would be cared for into the future. Cagle said a concern of his is what happens 20-30 years down the road? Who will be taking care of the cemetery?
    Commission members said with cemeteries in general, there is an amount of funds set aside from business operations to ensure the grounds will be maintained.
    Commission member Harold Hensley instructed the director to see what state guidelines are already in place on cemeteries and pet cemeteries.
    Clayton Preble said he had several concerns, starting with simply what is legally defined as a “pet.”
    Preble said he wants to be sure they looked at the issue thoroughly, “we could be opening up a can of worms, no pun intended.”
    Osborne said he didn’t need action from the commission that night as he had been asked to just get an informal assessment.

Rezoning recommended by commission
    A property owner, William Simmons, got planning commission approval to have 5.17 acres on Highway 515 south of Rocco’s rezoned from Highway Business to Suburban Residential.
    The property is currently zoned for commercial use but is being used residentially by Simmons.
    Simmons, who already has one house on the property, said he needed the rezoning as he wants to add additional residences and expand his current home. The disabled veteran said he is not eligible for a VA loan when the property is zoned commercial and he is seeking to build homes with one for his mother and possibly two for his two sisters.
    Commission member Pat Holmes observed this is not the first time they have seen a loan issue where people have trouble when trying to build residentially in areas with commercial zonings.
    The planning commission unanimously approved the rezoning request.
    However, Tim Prather, son of the adjacent property owner, voiced concerns with allowing more residential building in an area that is clearly a future business/commercial area asking “what is zoning for if not to prevent this.”
    Prather, whose family owns adjacent property, said eventually they plan on selling it as commercial and feel the area is better suited to embrace future commercial uses.
    “If you look at what’s going on on 515, it kind of speaks for itself,” Prather said of the Highway Business zoning.
    Prather said of immediate concern, are current noise issues with the nearby Rocco’s, where live bands perform (see related story on Page 1A) and the road itself is noisy. It will create more problems to add homes in the area, he said.
    Simmons said the noise won’t bother him, as he wears hearing aids and he recognizes the potential for additional noise down the road.

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