KIMBALL, Tenn. - City officials are considering whether to change the current zoning ordinance to allow for mixed-use developments.
"The concept of mixed-use is allowing both a residential and commercial use in the same building," Kimball Attorney Billy Gouger said. "That's something that has not been done before in Kimball. Most small municipalities do not have mixed-use developments."
The issue came up a few months ago, Mayor David Jackson said, when a local business owner wanted to build apartments on the back side of an existing commercial building.
"Our zoning rules do not currently allow that," he said.
The city's planning commission recently voted 3-2 to recommend the mixed-use zoning ordinance change to the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen, officials said.
"The vote by the planning commission doesn't mean we have to do this," Jackson said. "It just means that they recommend that we do it."
Gouger said changing the zoning ordinance is a risky undertaking because the town has only one commercial zone.
If the rule is changed, anyone who has commercial use of a property suddenly could make residential use out of it, too, as long as it fell within the requirements of the proposed ordinance, he said.
Officials said the current draft of the proposed ordinance requires that the residential use of property in a commercial zone be "secondary."
"It cannot be the primary use of a building within a commercial zone," Gouger said. "How you define what is secondary is going to be a problem. Unless the ordinance defines what that means, then I think that's where you're going to get a source of conflict."
"If you have an ordinance that defines what 'secondary' means, you'd have an ordinance the size of a phone book," Alderman Mark Payne said.
If the board approved the mixed-use ordinance, Payne said, the town could face a number of unforeseen liability issues.
Jackson said safety "is a huge concern with this. There is the potential for liability for the town."
"I think you're inviting problems if [the board] goes this route," Gouger said.
The board voted to table the issue until the next meeting on July 7 so members can review the proposed ordinance more thoroughly.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.