Although they didn’t approve a specific development, the Oak Ridge City Council on Monday approved a rezoning that could allow a Taco Bell restaurant with a drive-through on property that now houses a courthouse at the intersection of Bus Terminal Road and Oak Ridge Turnpike.
Council was approving a rezoning only. Any specific proposal to develop the property would undergo the city’s normal site review.
The 1.1-acre site is now home to Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II, which is expected to move soon to a county-owned building that once housed the Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center on Emory Valley Road.
The rezoning has been requested by Tacala TN Corporation of Vestavia Hills, Alabama. The rezoning would change the property from an O-2 Office District to a B-2 General Business District. Restaurants are allowed as special exceptions in the O-2 district, as long as there is no drive-through, Oak Ridge Community Development Senior Planner Kelly Duggan said in a December 18 memo to City Manager Mark Watson. B-2 districts allow drive-through restaurants “by right,” Duggan said.
The rezoning was approved 6-0 on Monday in the first of two monthly readings. Oak Ridge Mayor Pro Tem Rick Chinn was absent.
The second and final reading would presumably be at the City Council meeting in February.
The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission had previously recommended the rezoning in a 9-0 vote in December.
In the December memo to Watson, Duggan said the B-2 zoning is in character with the area.
“Oak Ridge Turnpike is a primary commercial corridor for the city,” Duggan said. “Many of (the) properties along the Turnpike already share a commercial zoning designation. In the immediate vicinity, there is a vibrant mix of office/medical uses and commercial uses that provide goods and services for professionals that work in the area. This grouping of compatible uses promotes pedestrian activity and provides more opportunities for social interaction, which should be encouraged.”
The property is currently owned by Vintage Development Corporation of Knoxville. It is across Bus Terminal Road from Security Square and roughly across Oak Ridge Turnpike from medical facilities that include Methodist Medical Center.
The city staff told the Planning Commission in December that it should consider any possible uses allowed in the B-2 zoning district when evaluating the request, and not just the intended drive-through restaurant.
You can see the City Council agenda here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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