New gas station, car wash, but no to private RV parks

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Decisions made by the planning commission are subject to approval by the city council.

The last two meetings of the Planning Commission revealed that Lebanon may be getting a new gas station and an automated car wash in the near future, and a loophole for allowing privately-owned RV parks in certain areas of the city will be tied off.

Two public hearings were held on Oct. 18 for plans at 911 W Airport Road and for property next to Walgreen’s. The planning commission approved changes to property at 911 W Airport Road and approved a conditional use permit on property next to Walgreen’s.

One public hearing was held on Nov. 15 to draft code amendments regarding RV parks and RVs as a caretaker dwelling for a specific purpose. The commission approved changes to a code that currently allows privately-owned RV parks (temporary stay) in highway commercial zones. The change will make it so privately-owned RV parks will not be allowed anywhere in the city. The commission also approved a code that will allow an RV to be used as a caretaker (security) dwelling at storage sites that contain no permanent structures.

A rendering of the proposed layout for a gas station across from Grampa’s Grocery.

Regarding 911 W Airport Road – a parcel that is just over one acre – owners of the property originally filed to build a 24-apartment complex on the property, which was reviewed by the commission during its April 19 meeting. It was revealed during the October meeting that their plans had changed, indicating they want to instead build a 4,000 square foot convenience store and six-pump gas station on the lot.

Following the public hearing, the commission approved amendments to the comprehensive plan and zone maps from a designation of residential mixed density to mixed use, and approved an administrative review and conditional use permit to construct the business. A traffic analysis of the plans indicated the changes are “not anticipated to result in a significant effect on the surrounding transportation network or require off site transportation improvements.”

The design of the proposed business includes access from Stoltz Hill Road, as well as a right-in, right-out on Airport Road, meaning westbound vehicles may enter from Airport Road and exiting vehicles may depart westbound only.

Community Development Director Kelly Hart said the City received two letters from residents regarding the proposed development. One letter, she said, showed general support for the project but indicated traffic concerns with a request the new traffic signal be installed and functional before the business begins. Hart said the light must be completed before the new development could be occupied. The second letter was sent on behalf of the Applegate Landing HOA, which opposed the development based mainly on concerns of commercial traffic on a residential street.

The property owners also own Grampa’s Grocery, located across the street with an address of 2010 Stoltz Hill Road.

A rendering of a proposed automatic car wash planned for development next to Walgreen’s.

At that same meeting, the commission approved a conditional use permit to construct and operate an automated car wash facility, called Go Carwash, on vacant property just northwest of Walgreen’s. It should be noted the plans for the property do not infringe upon a rectangular parcel on the land upon which a Dairy Queen is expected to be constructed next to the car wash.

Access into the business property would be from Burdell Boulevard, and cars would exit either onto Burdell or onto the current access road that parallels next to Highway 20.

During the Nov. 15 meeting, the commission approved code amendments allowing a caretaker/security person to reside in an RV on a mini-storage site where there are no permanent primary use structures or structures intended for occupancy built on-site. This came as a response to a business owner who erected an RV/boat storage lot on fenced-in property and wanted to allow a security person to live on the site in their RV.

The commission also removed language from code that would have allowed a privately-owned temporary-stay RV park to be installed in a highway commercial zone. With the new language, only publicly-owned temporary-stay RV parks are allowed. Currently there are two such parks: Gill’s Landing and Cheadle Lake Park.

Commissioner David McClain agreed with the decision to allow a caretaker RV for specific storage businesses, as well as the decision to prevent privately-owned RV parks in the city. He said private RV parks don’t look good after a while, “there’s always a garbage problem.”

“What I think we need to do is encourage the building of houses, duplexes, apartments, and not encourage RV parks in town,” McClain said.

He cited fire safety concerns, code enforcement issues, and sewer and water line problems. He also suggested temporary RV dwellers “don’t have skin in the game,” and if they’re only going to be in town for one to three months, they could get an apartment or hotel room.

“If they’re going to college here and they can’t afford an apartment, they have no business going to college,” McClain said.

Commissioner Shyla Malloy noted there are many traveling nurses and medical staff who travel for work and live in their RVs. They have a hard time finding places to stay in their RV because Gill’s Landing is often full, she said.

Commissioner Tina Breshears asked about property that appears to be an RV park at 481 S Main St., on the corner of E Vine Street.

Hart said she took some time to look for some basic land use applications of that property and found none, so she doesn’t know the permitting status of that property. However, when there is an existing use in the city and the City then changes its code, if the existing use is permitted, it becomes “legal nonconforming use” until the operation is inactive for a year.

“I do not know the status of that specific property, but if it is permitted as an RV park, it’s already considered a legal nonconforming use,” Hart said. “There’s no action we are taking tonight that affects the legality of that property.”