September 14, 2006

Rezoning Paves Way For New Health Department Facility

After several months of sitting on the table seeking a hospitable agreement between the two parties, the Memphis City Council acted at a September 7 meeting to decide on an application to rezone property recently purchased by the Scotland County Health Department.

The public health organization had filed to have lots 7, 8 and 9 at the northeast corner of Cecil and Madison streets, rezoned from residential to commercial. Administrator Margaret Curry had initially addressed the city council back in July seeking the change to allow the health department to build a new facility on the property, which is located east of the Scotland County Memorial Library.

Initially a number of neighboring property owners had noted concerns with the proposed rezoning. These property owners raised questions about traffic congestion and devaluation of property.

After the individuals met with the health department board, these issues were addressed but not remedied to the satisfaction of the individuals.

When we bought our home, we did so thinking it was a nice place to retire, said Helen Martin who lives just north of the proposed site. It was a residential neighborhood. I would like to see a nice home go up in that lot, not a business. Put yourself in our shoes.

Alderman Brian Brush indicated he understood the property owners concerns but pointed out there are already churches, a daycare, a storage unit and the public library in the neighborhood. He added that the proposed construction of a new health department building should raise the adjoining property values.

Alderman Ron Gardner sided with the neighboring property owners.

No one wants to stand in the way of a new health department, he said. But we need to listen to our constituents.

After tabling the issue the two previous months, the council moved to resolve the question so that all parties could move on.

The council voted 2-2 to rezone the property to commercial. Alderman Brush and Chris Feeney voted for the measure. Aldermen Gardner and Lucas Remley were opposed.

Mayor Roger Gosney cast the deciding vote in favor of rezoning the property to commercial.

This has been a very difficult decision, Gosney said. But I do it for the good of the community.

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