By Lindsey Hutson-Suttles

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – There was a special called City of LaFollette Regional Planning Commission meeting Monday afternoon at city hall.

Mayor Cliff Jennings called the meeting to discuss the events of March’s meeting. He requested the presence of the city’s attorney, Reid Troutman, to clear the air on some things.

One point that Troutman went over was how to go about voting if a member of the commission is directly or indirectly involved with an applicant. If directly involved, the member cannot vote. If indirectly involved, which is what happened at last month’s meeting, the member must make the situation known before being able to cast their vote.

Troutman also assured the members that with the last two storage unit issues from last month- Manasa being one of those-  out of the way, decisions on those issues will be much easier and less drawn out. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/04/2023-6AM)

Here below is the story from the March meeting:

Tension noticeable at Thursday’s La Follette Planning meeting

By Lindsey Hutson-Suttles

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – The City of LaFollette Regional planning commission held its monthly meeting Thursday afternoon at city hall.

Tension was noticeable as the meeting began rehashing issues from last month.

First on the agenda was the Johnson’s storage units, owned by Tony and Brandon Johnson, located at 2537-A Jacksboro Pike. Jordan Rockwell, regional planner for the East Tennessee Development District, began by offering the commission the two options available; accept the amended site plan review presented or pursue litigation in court for actions taken that were not approved. Mayor Cliff Jennings said that per the city attorney, Reid Troutman, the site plan should be denied and sent to court for non-conforming use.

Brandon Johnson asked to speak to the commission and laid out a timeline that dated back to 2017 when the projects started. He said the city lost the site plan for the two additional buildings. The plan was not stapled to the minutes from the meeting as they were presented. He pointed out in his timeline that from 2020 to December of 2022 there were no issues brought up by the city as the buildings were being constructed.

Planning Commission member Melanie Nance asked if fining the Johnsons and letting them continue business is an option. Rockwell said this wouldn’t be the first time an amended site plan was approved after things were already done. The mayor made a motion to deny the plan and go to court. Planning Commission member Lynn Letner seconded.

Next, Rockwell presented a chart to define indoor versus outdoor storage units and where they could be located. Taking notes based off the Knoxville area, the commission could better define in which zones each type could be allowed and present it to the city council.

Manasa Marina was again before the commission, this time with a completed site plan including a landscape plan. Jennings wanted to deny the plan. However, Manasa’s attorney and Rockwell said this application was submitted before any ordinances against it were formed. Rockwell presented two options; approve or litigate. Planning Commission member Matthew Grodeman made a motion to approve the plan based on Rockwell’s recommendation. Nance seconded. Jennings and Letner voted no. In the event of a tie, the chairman gets to vote. Planning Commission chairman Stephanie Solomon voted yes, and the motion passed.

However, Jennings wants to challenge the motion due to a possible connection between Manasa and Grodeman.

A special exception request was made for a behavioral health clinic located at 2221 Jacksboro Pike. Omni Community Health is the applicant. Omni treats behavioral health issues. The organization has worked with the child advocacy center in La Follette, and it is not a pain clinic. No medications would be kept on the premises. The motion was approved.

Lastly, Woodson’s Cash Stores was issued a cease and desist order for the boat storage located at 1221 Jacksboro Pike. The order was issued in January. Rockwell said there was no record of a change of use for the building since it went from retail to storage, but due to timing, the cease and desist should be removed. There was no ordinance against storage in January. A motion to vacate the cease and desist was approved as well as a special request to continue the boat storage business at that location. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/24/2023-6AM)