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South Lamar Neighborhood Group shoots down gun shop plan

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 by Jacob Cottingham

A citizen’s petition spearheaded by the South Lamar Neighborhood group derailed a zoning change off Ben White. A homeowner, Robert Anderson, wanted to turn his SF-3 residentially-zoned home into a GR commercial space in order to open a custom gun manufacturing business.


The homeowner said he had purchased the property in 1981 and the deed mistakenly said the lot was zoned commercial in 1979. Anderson wanted to modify the interior of the house and change the floor plan. “I do have some associates that are retired — we call them ‘from the intelligence community,’ Navy Seals, that would like to invest some money to have some residual income.”


The neighborhood did not support his vision. A fifth of the landowners within 200 feet of the property signed a valid petition against the change. Ostensibly, those opposing the petition were concerned about increased traffic and parking problems. The property, 1140 Clawson, is along the first line of residential zoning behind several car dealerships and other businesses along Ben White’s frontage. South Lamar Neighborhood Association member Carol Gibbs said, “the properties directly across it and to the north of it are residential and so we’re really wanting to hold the line on the residential.” Gibbs also produced photos of local flooding and Google image shots of excessive parking at the residence.


Anderson argued that his property could easily and legally park six vehicles, that it was not responsible for any flooding and that Jeff Twinning, an SLNA member, was motivated against the change because he himself had property for sale.


In July 2008 the Planning Commission denied the change to GR on a consent vote. (However, in an earlier case, they had recommended that the lot across the street from Anderson be zoned as a Commercial Office (LO-CO).)  Council Member Sheryl Cole made the motion to accept the Planning Commission recommendation and deny the permit. Council voted 7-0 in favor of the motion.

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