Zone change for distillery a rush order

Published 8:40 am Thursday, December 7, 2017

Leaders with Danville and the local Planning and Zoning Commission are scrambling to approve a zone change for a distillery project on Lebanon Road as fast as possible.

“This thing is on a fast track. We’ve been told that if we do this — get this recommendation to the city for their 5:30 meeting Monday, the whole deal will go down,” said Bruce Smith, attorney for the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission, during Wednesday’s monthly meeting.

The P&Z Commission recommended approval of the zone change to the Danville City Commission, but that’s the first of several hoops to clear before the change is finalized.

Email newsletter signup

P&Z Director Steve Hunter said after the meeting that the city commission must hold two readings of an ordinance adopting the zone change. In order to do that, the city must have the “entire planning and zoning record” as evidence to include in the ordinance. That means a record of the P&Z hearing held Wednesday, including who all spoke, what they said, what findings were presented and what the commission decided, Hunter explained.

“What they’ve asked is, to really have a complete record and make a first reading, they need the minutes, and the minutes are draft until they’re approved,” Hunter said.

In order to accomplish that, the P&Z Commission voted to hold a special called meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday to approve the minutes of Wednesday’s marathon three-hour meeting.

P&Z Chair Jerry Leber was not pleased with the plan, nor the fact that no one from Danville had communicated with members of the commission about the need for swift action.

“I struggle with being coerced into working with somebody else’s timeline because we totally volunteer to do this at our own time and expense,” he said. “It’s bothering me a little bit that no one has come to me as chair from the mayor’s office or whatever and said, ‘Jerry, we would appreciate or like … for us to do this.’ I just think that would be at least appropriate.

“I don’t know, I feel almost like we’re being held hostage in a sense — either get this done or we’re out of here. That just doesn’t leave the best taste in my mouth, personally.”

After further discussion about when a special called meeting would work, Susie Kelly made the motion to hold it at 9:30 a.m. Monday, in order to give the P&Z staff enough time to type up the minutes. Jeffrey Baird seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Hunter said after the meeting the city had not explained to him why it wanted everything finished so quickly. But he has been told the city is attempting to finalize the zone change before Christmas, which would require a special called meeting of the city commission for a second reading. The Danville City Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. on Monday; it does not have a second regular meeting in December due to the holidays.