The Frankfort/Franklin County Planning Commission got right down to business at its monthly meeting on Thursday night, as six of the nine appointed members voted to deny land developer Ron Tierney’s request for a zone map amendment on an 85-acre lot on Duncan Road.
The amendment called for a change to the property’s designation from Agriculture District (AG) to Industrial General District (IG). The switch would have allowed Tierney’s company, Tierney Storage LLC, to fully develop the property that was once the site of the historic Blanton-Crutcher Farm.
The commission had tabled the matter after a three-hour public hearing in May that saw spirited testimony both for and against rezoning.
No additional public comments were heard at the Thursday meeting. Instead, the commission went over a list of 12 findings of fact in the case. Six of those were used as reasoning to deny the amendment.
Commission member Brent Sweger proposed four findings of fact that highlighted several issues with changing the zoning to IG.
“Industrial general zoning allows land use such as heavy manufacturing that are not compatible with the future land use map designation, ‘employment center,'” Sweger told his fellow commission members in one of the statements.
Commission member Paul Looney also presented facts, one of which being that a zone change was not in keeping with the Frankfort/Franklin County Comprehensive Plan issued in 2016.
“The proposed zone change request does not comply with goal six of the comprehensive plan,” Looney’s fact read. “Which is to promote the stability, preservation and vitality of existing residential neighborhoods.”
The other facts used in the commission's decision include:
- The land is not designated as industrial in the comprehensive plan.
- Agricultural Zoning is not inappropriate given the property's historic lineage as a farm.
- Nothing has significantly changed that was not already anticipated since the adoption of the 2016 comp plan.
- The current comprehensive plan's primary goal is to preserve existing farms and rural lands outside of urban areas.
The members who voted to approve the amendment were Chairman Russell Wright, Sherron Jackson and Keith Lee.
This is another setback for Tierney who has owned the acreage since 2019. The planning commission approved Tierney’s original request for a zone amendment in February 2020. However, the Franklin County Fiscal Court went on to deny it the following July.
Tierney and his attorney, John Rompf, were present at Thursday's meeting. Rompf told The State Journal that he and his client were going to consider their next course of action after reviewing the written findings.
Susan Goddard, who owns a farm that borders the Tierney property, as well as local environmentalist Chris Schimmoeller were also on hand.
Goddard and Schimmoeller have been at the heart of the movement to keep Tierney from developing the land since it was purchased.
“I am relieved, overjoyed and I’m tired,” Goddard said after the commission voted. “We have been fighting this since 2019.”
Goddard and Schimmoeller have gone on record several times accusing Tierney of knocking down trees and structures on the land without permit or regard for environmental hazards that have caused property damage and health problems in the surrounding area.
“Property owners should not be able to hide under the veil of agricultural zoning to do industrial activities or any other activities that don’t fit under agricultural,” Schimmoeller said. “That is what this applicant did. Flouting our local laws and ordinances again and again and again to the disruption of neighbors and damage to the environment and danger to public safety.”
The matter will go to the fiscal court next, which will also vote to approve or deny the proposed zone amendment. The date of that vote is to be determined.