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Planners reject City Council's order on code change

If the Hendersonville City Council follows through on its pledge to repeal a parking lot requirement members described as burdensome, it will do so against the recommendation of the city Planning Board.

The newly elected City Council at its December meeting voted to send a proposed zoning code amendment back to the Planning Board with a recommendation that the advisory board strike a section that required developers to install sidewalks within parking lots.
The Planning Board wanted to change the ordinance to require the "pedestrian channels" to be at least five feet wide, although fewer would be required. Saying the sidewalks are not needed at all, council members bounced the issue back to the Planning Board.
During a Planning Board meeting on Jan. 13, Jon Blatt said the pedestrian channels are not necessary and are not used. Board Chairman Steven Orr said that "with two small children and an elderly mother, he prefers to use them," according to minutes of the meeting. Ben Pace and Blatt favored repeal.


Some Planning Board members pushed back, too, when they heard that Larry Rogers, the lobbyist for the Partnership for Economic Progress, had told the City Council that City Planner Sue Anderson had done "a sales job" on the Planning Board when the sidewalk issue first came up.
After more discussion, the board in a 5-4 vote defeated a motion to repeal the section, as the City Council had directed. Voting to repeal the sidewalk requirement were Blatt, Orr, Pace and Steve Johnson. Voting against repeal were former Councilman Jeff Collis, Fred Dutcher, Bill Farrell, Julia Sellers and Jay Thorndike.

The City Council is not bound by the Planning Board's recommendation. It can still repeal the sidewalk requirement when it takes up the question on Thursday night.