Planning commission denies application for proposed Old Boonesboro Road subdivision

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, December 7, 2023

On Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m., the chapel inside Central Baptist Church on W. Lexington Avenue may not regularly be crowded.

However, Tuesday, December 5th was an exception.

With the location being chosen due to what was predicted to be – and accurately – a larger than average crowd, the local planning commission held a meeting to discuss whether to go forth with an applicant’s preliminary plan for developing a 52-acre property of land located at 3475 Old Boonesboro Road.

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To the satisfaction of many in the crowd, the application was denied unanimously.

“Both parties did a really good [presenting],” said Aaron Pelfrey, who made the motion to deny. “It’s just that based on my review of it and several findings … it’s a denial for me.”

The applicant, who asked to remain anonymous, had proposed 132 duplex lots to be developed at the location on Old Boonesboro Road, allowing a 1,172.86-ft. cul-de-sac.

For several reasons, it was a subject of heavy debate among those living in the area, and a public meeting allowing many individuals to speak of their concerns had previously been held.

At Tuesday’s meeting, many from the community were present – including Clark County Judge-Executive Les Yates and Magistrate Steve Craycraft.

Attorneys representing both sides spoke.

Chris Clendenen of Murphy and Clendenen represented many of the neighborhood’s citizens who were against the proposal, while Preston Worley of McBrayer LLC represented the applicant.

“First and foremost, proposed entrances for this proposed development are contained within a FEMA [defined] floodplain. I want that to really sink in,” said Clendenen. “Access for emergency vehicles under FEMA guidelines will be cut off, and nobody will be able to get there until the flooding recedes. That’s important. This by itself should merit your disapproval of this plan.”

FEMA is an acronym for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Clendenen also stated that, due to the road conditions, the likelihood of accidents could increase, while citing that engineers and other studies said it would be problematic.

Conversely, Worley responded that any safety concerns would be prioritized.

“When it talks about any sort of roadway issue [or] roadway concerns, all of that will have to be reviewed and approved. We just hope to answer as many as we can [right now], but those issues will have to be resolved and presented back to you,” he said. “We know there are some plumbing issues, but just because something is in a floodplain doesn’t mean it’s not developed.”

Worley also stated that professionals with technical backgrounds had supported the safety of the development.

A separate issue of conflict surrounded the zoning laws in the area.

Presently, the location is listed as an R5-zoned property.

As a result, it would be categorized as an area for multifamily dwellings.

“In 2001, this [area] was already approved to be this particular subdivision. The only thing that we can do is [determine] how it looks and how it’s available between now and the end of the completion,” said Christy Bush, one member of the Planning Commission. “That’s the dilemma [is] that there’s nothing we can really do about that specific situation.”

Yet resident Heather Penichet stated that the zoning is outdated.

“It is a different road, considering the high school was not there in 2001”, she said. “The road is functioning [differently], and those of us that have lived there for years recognize that the road is not the same.”

As previously mentioned, the applicant’s preliminary plan was denied shortly after that.

Terry Mynk, another member of the planning commission, stated that he hopes for more collaboration if plans are to move forward in the future.

“There are some issues that I think both the applicant and the opposition can agree on,” he stated. “We do have the history in Clark County for development actually mitigating some flooding issues. This is something that the applicant may want to consider.”

The decision was met with different reactions, including one from 12-year-old Landon Zavitz.

“This development [won’t] work,” he said. “It’s not safe for little children who live in my neighborhood.”