Members of the Cartersville Planning Commission took no action on a proposed text amendment that would create two new “infill overlays” within the Cherokee-Cassville and West End historic districts.
The Cartersville City Council voted to initiate a moratorium on subdivisions, demolitions and some types of rezoning and variance applications in the two districts last August. The council has voted to extend the moratorium twice since then.
“It was based on some concerns about some development and building within the West End/Cherokee-Cassville historic districts,” City of Cartersville Planning and Development Director Randy Mannino said at last week’s public meeting. “There were 14 items that were identified that staff had looked at and we did have a committee established with staff, city council and [historic preservation commission, or HPC] members and the City attorney — with that, we tried to address the concerns that they had for development in these two particular areas.”
The proposed overlays, Mannino said, would come with a litany of additional standards addressing the “compatibility” of construction and reconstruction within the districts and “to provide for patterns and character which is already out there.”
Cartersville Assistant City Attorney Keith Lovell said the proposed requirements speak for themselves.
“Council, HPC and the neighborhoods have been invited to numerous meetings over the last year to come up with this final proposal, to begin working through the process,” he said. “Although the moratorium expires in July, council did inform us at the last work session when we adopted it that if this was not done before the moratorium expired, then we’re not going to renew the moratorium.”
Commissioner Steve Smith, however, said he had concerns about the proposal.
“It looks like we’re trying to get this done in a timeline, and nobody’s able to meet,” he said. “I just don’t want to cause trouble down the road for somebody if we’re trying to get this in by a time.”
In particular, he said he was worried that homeowners within the districts won’t even know the standards are changing.
That very well could be the case, Mannino responded.
“I would tend to say the people in the Cherokee-Cassville historic district, every single one of them knows this is changing,” he continued. “But maybe not the West End historic district.”
Lovell said the City is in no “rush” to get the text amendment approved.
“At some of our public meetings that we’ve had over this over the last year, there have been speakers from the various neighborhoods who were against portions of it, or against anything being done to their property because they just felt they should be able to do what’s under the current zoning regulations,” he said. “But I don’t think anybody’s submitted any written comments for this particular one.”
Commissioner Greg Culverhouse also weighed in on the issue.
“I think I know the property there on Cassville Road and the other property on West Avenue that may have given rise to some neighborhood complaints about splitting up properties and building houses and that kind of thing, which I assume is what caused this particular overlay to be done,” he said. “Because you, basically, had two tracts of people that cause some issues, we’re putting new restrictions on it looks like maybe hundreds of lives, or over a hundred lives.”
While one particular property may have “raised the public’s interest,” Lovell said council directed staff to review over a dozen different issues pertaining to the entirety of the districts.
“We wanted to ensure the compatibility of the remaining properties in the historic district for future development,” he said. “And this ordinance is the result of those meetings and discussions … but if it’s something ya’ll don’t feel is necessary, that’s fine as well, it doesn’t matter to staff. We’re just following our directions.”
Ultimately, Smith made a motion to table discussion of the item until the commission’s scheduled August meeting. With commissioner Harrison Dean absent, the present members of the board voted unanimously to accept it.
“If people have a problem with it, they can come in person and talk about it,” Smith said.