Planning board supports new access road

By NIKKI ROWELL,

The Madison County Planning Commission voted May 16 to approve a request from Madison business owner Ron Hutchinson for access onto Church Road.

Hutchinson was seeking the removal of two conditions from the property’s zoning. The property, located south of Church Road and west of Calhoun Station Parkway, is zoned C-2.

He requested that the board remove the condition that the Church Road bypass be a cul-de-sac. Instead, he asked for the board’s permission for access onto Church Road with an intersection.

The second condition he sought to remove is the requirement of a three-foot berm to be located along the northern part of the property.

The board approved the request for access to Church Road but denied the request to remove the berm.

Before the requests were brought before the board, Hutchinson’s attorney Sheldon Alston addressed the board and residents in attendance.

“Just because there has been so much chatter about Ron Hutchinson appealing the Gluckstadt incorporation, I just wanted to address it upfront and honest,” Alston said. “One thing I want to make clear, all he wanted to do was reasonably develop his property. He needed this process.”

“Gluckstadt simply did not have the capacity as soon as it becomes a city to do that,” Alston added. “As soon as they become a city, they do not have this board. They do not have engineers. They do not have tax revenue. They don’t have the structure.”

Chairman of the Planning Commission Walter McKay said the city of Gluckstadt could have made that decision.

“The city board could have made that same decision. It does not require engineers. That’s a moot point. I think that’s a red herring,” McKay said.

Alston responded that Hutchinson simply wanted a “fair discussion of what’s right for his property.”

As for why they feel that property should have access to Church Road, they argued that so much has changed in that area over the last few years to make it suitable for an intersection.

He said the fact that the road has been expanded into a three-lane, has turn lanes and an intersection light at Calhoun Station Parkway all make it able to accommodate the additional traffic the businesses could bring.

According to Hutchinson’s lawyers, the development he has planned for that property is intended to attract high-end businesses to the area, which they said would benefit the community “both aesthetically and economically.”

“Right now, all of the development has been along Calhoun Station Parkway because you have access,” he said. “There has been very little development along this road primarily because very few high-end businesses want to develop at the end of a dead end.”

They said the businesses will not include convenience stores, tobacco stores or truck stops.

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