Planning Commission Rescinds Dandridge Development Decision

Commissioner Terry Reneau at Wednesday night's meeting - Staff Photo by Jeff Depew

Commissioner Terry Reneau at Wednesday night’s meeting – Staff Photo by Jeff Depew

The Dandridge Planning Commission met in a Special Called Meeting on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 in the Public Works Building in Dandridge. The purpose of the meeting was for consideration to Act Upon or Rescind the Revitalization Plan of WODA Development for the Shrader Road area around the Field of Dreams and new Dandridge Activity Center. Following a Call to Order from Chairman of the Commission Swann, Commissioner Jones made a Motion to rescind action taken in the January meeting which gave approval to a concept plan presented by WODO representatives which deemed the proposed development site as a revitalization area. The Motion was 2nd by Commissioner Hasty and the issue was opened to discussion. Commissioner Jones stated that he had conferred with Town of Dandridge Attorney Gass concerning options available to the Planning Commission after information came to light that the proposed development was a low income development. Jones said that the issue had been misrepresented in the previous meeting and that the Commission was told by representatives of the proposed development that the project was not low income housing. Discussion ensued concerning the Commission’s ability to control projects that fall within the prescribe use of the property. Attorney Gass stated that, though the Commission cannot deny a project that falls within the approved usage, the Commission is within their rights to rescind the action to approve the concept plan for a revitalization area if the Commission believes that it was misinformed about the parameters of the development. A printed recording of  the January meeting confirmed a representative of WODA denied that the project was low income. Denis Blackburne, Senior Vice President of WODA, addressed the Planning Commission. Blackburne stated that the Tennessee Housing Development Agency tax credit for low income housing is very competitive and that the acknowledgement of the area as a revitalization area is imperative to a successful application. Commissioner Hasty stated that he has issue with deeming the area a revitalization area because it is currently agricultural. He said that attaching a revitalization area approval to the site would make a statement that agricultural or farm land is not a best use of property and that he is not comfortable with that statement. Commissioner Jones stated that he is also uncomfortable with how that site could be considered appropriate for revitalization due to its location and current status. Commissioner Franklin stated that the revitalization designation was a “wink, wink” move, however he declined to publicly explain the implication further when questioned by other Commissioners. WODA representative Blackburne stated that the company is committed to bringing an affordable, well run development to the community.

The Commission approved the Motion to rescind with a 4-2 vote. Voting against rescinding the previous action were Commissioners Franklin and Reneau. WODA representatives stated that the action rescinding the revitalization designation would result in the company withdrawing from the project. The Commission voted 5-1 (Swann No) to delay sending the letter to Tennessee Housing Development declaring the rescinding of the designation revitalization area until after the next meeting, when the issue of revitalization can be further addressed.

Source: K. Depew, News Director