LaFayette holds public hearings for rezoning, grant application

Published 10:34 am Thursday, May 27, 2021

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During Monday’s meeting, the LaFayette City Council held two public hearings.

The first hearing was in reference to the city’s Community Development Block Grant application, which is being written by Louise Cambell, who is contracted to write the city’s grant applications. If granted, the $450,000 grant would go to improving the city’s water treatment plant, which is one of the main focuses of the council.

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“The grant is about $450,000 and the local is 20 percent of the total project cost,” Louise Cambell said. “They extended the deadline to Aug. 18, so they’ve given us more time. I’ve learned a lot when I  talked to the reviewers, so I’ve found ways to improve that grant application.”

The second hearing was to rezone Seneathia Williams’ property from a single-family residential to a B-1 neighborhood business.

“The planning commission held a hearing, and made a recommendation that the property be rezoned,” City Attorney Mac Tucker said. “The planning commission word is not final. Zoning must be done by ordinance. This public hearing is for this council to get whatever information they need to go ahead to vote on this ordinance. There were several parties that presented opinions concerning this application… Any rezoning is not limited to the business that the person requesting the rezoning wants to put there. It will be a general rezoning of the property.”

Williams runs My Sweet Treats, a dessert shop that specializes in designer treats from her house.

The focus of the rezoning will be to turn part of her house to a business, so Willaims can ship and sell her goods throughout the state. Since beginning her business in October, My Sweet Treats has only had seven pickups.

“Everything is mostly delivered from the house, and that is the appeal of it,” Williams said. “The reason I would like to be zoned for business is so I can ship and sell throughout the state. Right now, I’m working under cottage food laws, and I’m not allowed to ship, and I have to be the one that delivers everything at this time. I can’t have a delivery driver. If I was able to get this business [rezoning], not only would it bring more money to the city but the county. I could hire people. I could hire a delivery driver. I could hire someone to help me bake or a cake decorator.”

The primary concern of those opposed to the rezoning would be the traffic that could be caused on the road if deliveries are going out.

“If she was just having visitors coming from 77 and were getting in the turning lane to come visit her, what difference would the traffic be, because her traffic is going to be UPS and FedEx,” councilwoman Tammie B. Williams asked. “She has a driveway that goes all the way around the house.”

According to LaFayette Street Superintendent George Green, there wouldn’t be a difference between visitors and shipping carriers, but the current city ordinance reads there must be good traffic access.

While the current business wouldn’t change the traffic much in that area, the property rezoning would pertain to any future businesses that could go to the house.

LaFayette Police Chief George Rampey said the city hasn’t had any accidents in front of Williams’ property that would be a cause for concern. He said he didn’t have any concerns of the traffic if the property designation were to change.

Before the council voted, Tammie Williams addressed the council showing her support of the rezoning.

“I’m here to support Ms. Williams in her endeavor to open a bakery in her house. We don’t have anything here, and whenever someone tries to come to our city, they run into roadblocks,” Tammie Williams said. “That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to embrace people to come and try to get the attraction to our city. We have to stop. We have to start to embrace people and entice people to come to our city. I am standing here today as a resident and a constituent of District E. I don’t see any problems.”

The council suspended the rules to vote on the rezoning of 426 N. LaFayette Street. The council unanimously approved the change.