WARNER ROBINS -- One property owner’s effort to commercialize part of a Warner Robins neighborhood stalled at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Al Dehnad owns the property at 405 Cherokee Drive, and he wants to have it rezoned from a single-family residential district to a neighborhood commercial district so it can become part of an adjacent medical complex that fronts Watson Boulevard.
The council decided Monday to send the issue back to the city’s planning and zoning commission with the recommendation that it be classified as residential with exceptions for restricted commercial use. Councilmen Chuck Shaheen, Keith Laurentis and Clifford Holmes voted in favor of the adjusted residential zoning, and Council members Tim Thomas, Mike Davis and Carolyn Robbins voted against it. Mayor Randy Toms broke a tie on the motion, voting to send it back to planning and zoning to be zoned residential with exceptions.
Dehnad wasn’t satisfied with the land being zoned anything but commercial during the pre-council session.
“What you’re doing is not smart zoning,” Dehnad said.
Dehnad also contends the entire area, which is one street from Watson Boulevard, will eventually be zoned for commercial use anyway. While Thomas agreed that likely such a trend would occur, he saw no reason to force the process.
“It’s still my belief that we’ve got to give those homeowners time to get their act together and move before we throw it on them,” Thomas said.
Other homeowners from the neighborhood who were in attendance to express their displeasure at the potential new zoning. Amanda Saulmon owns the home next to Dehnad’s property. She brought a petition with the signatures of 50 other neighbors in an effort to protect the “integrity of the neighborhood” as a residential zone.
She noted that Dehnad owns several rental properties along Cherokee but that homeowners lived in the majority of the other homes on the street.
“I’m concerned that it’s going to open up the gate for him to rezone the other properties that he owns,” she said.
She approved of the plan to zone the property as residential with exceptions for commercial use, which would allow Dehnad to use the property for his stated intent, Toms said.
“At the same time, under (residential zoning), you could use it for the purpose that you need,” Toms said.
The property is expected to be considered by planning and zoning along with another of Dehnad’s properties at 409 Cherokee Drive that had previously been sent back.
Council members voted unanimously to deny another rezoning petition to allow a gas station 164 and 166 Smithville Church Road.
The council also got its first look at a draft budget for fiscal 2016 Monday.
The balanced budget of $37,826,792 includes recommended “minimal” rate increases for sanitation and natural gas service.
“Just to try to cover some of the costs,” Toms said.
A 2 percent cost of living adjustment for all full-time city employees also is included in the proposal.
RELIEF FROM MOSQUITOES
Among the bid proposals approved by the council was a renewal for a mosquito spray contract with ADAPCO Inc., out of Sanford, Florida. The cost to the city, which will come out of the Public Works Department’s budget, will be $1,072.50 per 55-gallon drum.
“It’s going to take a lot this year, I’m afraid,” Laurentis said.
Public Works employees started spraying six weeks earlier than usual this year, said Director George Brannen. Council members noted an increased mosquito presence as the weather has gotten warmer.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Shaheen said.
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.