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Whispering Hills homeowners loud enough to defeat industrial zoning

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners denied a request by property owner Samuel Owen to rezone the land to industrial use to expand his business. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners denied a request by property owner Samuel Owen to rezone the land to industrial use to expand his business.

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Monday night denied a rezoning request made by a property owner who wanted to expand a business where large dump trucks park on Whispering Hills Drive near Howard Gap Road.


Property owner Samuel Owens sought the rezoning of 5 acres from residential to a conditional industrial district. The land is bordered by condos and apartments on one side and single family homes in Windsor Hills.
Fifteen neighbors who turned out for a public hearing told commissioners that the parking lot and storage facility already brings noise, drainage problems, potential contaminants and traffic hazards. Adding a large garage and more trucks would only compound those problems, they said.

Frank Cox, a Whispering Hills resident for 30 years, said one aim of zoning should be to protect the economic value of surrounding property.

“We are zoned residential,” he said. “And our property values are important to us, just as I’m sure yours are to you. A trucking company works against our property value and I this is going against the spirit of protecting people’s property value. The is a principal and I think it’s good one and it’s not to sacrifice the good of many for the good of one.”

Rick Street, of 514 Whispering Hills Drive, said he lives next door to the now graded and paved property that used to be a cornfield.

“It was supposed to be for the Owens” paving company. “Now it’s become more of a business. I know they do rent out truck parking, to at least two other truck companies. As far as the noise, they’re cranking trucks up at 4 a.m. I’m the closest one to their property so I can hear that.”

On the Fourth of July, he said, he was outside watering plants and mowing the grass when a trucker parked his rig in the lot with the motor running, “left the truck for an hour and a half, left  his personal truck while the truck was running.”

The odors neighbors complain about is "fermented waste hop from Sierra Nevada that gets spilled all over the road on a regular basis," he said. "I think the last time, the fire department had to come hose it down.”

Rachel Martin, a schoolteacher, bought a home in Whispering Hills in 2013 and has worked to make it just right.

“It was my first home. It was a real big deal for me. It’s just a beautiful neighborhood. When I bought my home I wasn’t investing in the neighborhood, I was investing in myself, I was investing in my future. The thought of my property value dropping after all this hard work is heartbreaking.”


Commissioners said they agreed with the residents that expanding industrial use is incompatible with the homes in a predominantly residential area.


“The problems of safety, that’s certainly one concern,” Chairman Grady Hawkins said. “But in addition to that looking, at the location of this parcel, which is completely surrounded by R-2, were it to be rezoned it would just be a donut hole right in the middle of a lot of other property that’s zoned R-2.”
After an hour long discussion, the board unanimously approved Hawkins' motion to deny the rezoning request.