Floyd County Commissioners are scheduled to decide Tuesday if they’ll allow a custom shield and coat-of-arms studio to open on Fosters Mill Road.
The property at the intersection of Melson Road is zoned for residential use and neighbors have opposed rezoning at every step of the process. But the tract owned by the Garner Construction Co. family was used commercially for 40 years and there’s an industrial building on the site.
“This is an anomalous situation to a degree ... I don’t envy you. It’s not an easy decision,” Planning Director Artagus Newell said while briefing the board earlier this month.
The Rome-Floyd Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial, saying it would be “spot zoning” – introducing a new land use into the area.
However, Commissioners Rhonda Wallace and Allison Watters noted that there’s heavy commercial zoning nearby on Fosters Mill Road, which is a state highway used often by logging trucks.
“I’m struggling with this,” Watters said, noting that the tract could become blighted as the vacant building falls into disrepair.
Commissioners questioned Newell on ways to protect residents if they allow Bonnie and Lindsay Mastro to move The Shield Factory – described as a “small cottage industry” – to the site.
But County Attorney Wade Hoyt said the zoning “goes with the property,” not the business, so any future owner of the tract would be able to use it for more intrusive production work if they chose.
“Once you’ve zoned it ... You’ve put Heavy Commercial in the middle of a residential area,” Commission Chair Scotty Hancock noted.
Restricting truck traffic on Melson Road also would be ineffective protection, the board heard.
“There’s a 36,000-pound limit now, but if a business is there you can’t say ‘no deliveries’,” Public Works Director Michael Skeen said.
A special-use permit for a business “shall not be considered” in a residential district, Newell said the Unified Land Development Code states.
Zoning changes that could be acceptable to nearby residents, such as Urban Mixed Use and Central Business Commercial, are meant for more densely populated areas, Newell said under questioning.
And the previous industrial use of the property can’t be “grandfathered” because it’s been more than 12 months since the site has been active.
Commissioner Larry Maxey asked Newell to explore the definition of “active,” since the Garners have maintained utility service to the building. However, it was unclear how the board was leaning.
A public hearing and vote are scheduled for the Commission’s 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave.
Two other applications for land-use changes also are on the agenda. The planning commission recommended denial of them as well.
Daniel Stephen is seeking Light Industrial zoning for a parcel at 4756 Calhoun Road that he and a partner want to clean up for a car restoration and sales shop. The area is mainly a mix of residential and other less-intensive uses.
The Byrd family is asking for a special-use permit to restore an inherited house as a duplex at 302D Pleasant Valley Road in Silver Creek. It shares a narrow private drive with several single-family homes.