Zoning change leads council meeting

Xavier Smith • Mar 6, 2018 at 7:34 PM

Dozens of Lebanon residents who packed the Lebanon City Council meeting chambers Tuesday left relieved after the council approved a zoning change for a heavily debated piece of property on Blair Lane.

The council voted to amend the city’s future land-use plan by changing the unaddressed property to low-density residential zoning from medium-density residential.

The change comes after months of discussion, delays and amendments to plans for a potential subdivision on the property, which was met with opposition from surrounding neighbors since plans surfaced.

The latest request for the property, which was made by Mark Vastola, would have rezoned the property to medium residential 12,000 from rural residential. The change would alter the minimum lot requirement to 12,000 square feet. Vastola pulled his zoning request until May. 

The Lebanon Planning Commission denied two other requests regarding the same property last year.

Residents voiced their opposition to the more than 250 “cookie-cutter homes” potentially built on the land, as many raised concerns about traffic, water runoff, property values and way-of-life alterations cited in previous planning commission and council meetings.

The decision to change the zoning to low density curbs future development to quell surrounding residents’ concerns.

In other business, the council agreed to start a scholarship fund for the children of Lebanon police Officer Joseph Bowen, who died last week when his truck ran off Highway 70, into an embankment and into Smith Fork Creek.

Bowen, a five-year veteran with Lebanon police and 10 years of law enforcement experience, left the Lebanon Police Department around 6 a.m. following an overnight shift.

He was driving to his home in DeKalb County.

“He had two young children, and when he passed, he was wearing the uniform of a Lebanon police officer,” said Councilor Rob Cesternino.

The city will donate $5,000 to each fund to start the scholarship through Liberty State Bank.

The council also voted to adopt employee pay plan recommendations from Burris Thompson. The council discussed the changes last week.

According to Lebanon Human Resources Director Sylvia Reichle, the city’s pay is below the mark based on the study done by Steve Thompson with Burris, Thompson and Associates.

“So, the recommendations from Steve Thompson were to increase the pay-grade structure, which is the min, mid and max ranges, up 3 percent and increase the current employee salaries by 2 percent in order to maintain competitiveness for 2018-2019,” Reichle said.

Reichle recommended the city implement the suggested changes to beginning with the new pay-period March 31. 

The salary increase would cost the city about $800,000 for 2018-2019, and Lebanon finance commissioner Stuart Lawson said the city could cover the increase with its current budget.

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