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Zoning commission approves conversion of apartment buildings' tennis court

Storage units to take place of courts by Tia Lyons | June 22, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

The El Dorado Planning and Zoning Commission (EPZC) approved Tuesday a variance to make way for the addition of commercial storage units at a local apartment complex.

Commissioners followed up a variance request they received last month from the Columbia County-based Chris and Molly Properties, LLC, owner of Terrace Villa Apartments, 105 Kimberly Circle.

During a public hearing on May 17, Chris Drake and Allison Keith, both of Chris and Molly Properties, LLC, presented a variance request to convert tennis courts on the Terrace Villa property into a space for storage units.

Commissioners discussed the proposed project in depth but they were unable to vote on the matter due to the lack of a quorum.

Drake and Keith fielded several questions about the project.

They explained that the tennis courts, which are adjacent to Apartment Building 6 on the east side of the property near the end of Meadow Lane, are not in use.

The LLC is looking to install 42 metal storage units in the space and Drake and Keith said the units will match the brown and tan color scheme of the Terrace Villa apartment buildings.

Drake said the units will serve Terrace Villa, noting that prospective tenants often ask if on-site storage is available.

Terrace Villa tenants will get first priority and the units will also be available to residents in neighboring townhouses on Meadow Lane, just north of Terrce Villa, and the general public, Drake explained last month.

When EPZC chairman Kelly Halstead inquired about security measures, Drake said flood lights and security/surveillance cameras will be installed.

He also told commissioners that an existing eight-foot fence will be removed and the flood lights will shine downward so as not to affect neighboring properties.

Because planning and zoning commissioners could not vote on the matter without a quorum, Halstead said she would check to see if they could vote on the variance by email.

On Tuesday, Halstead said the Arkansas Municipal League advised against a vote by email and the group convened a meeting to address the matter.

Commissioners Scott Ellen and Devin Patterson said they were not sure if Terrace Villa residents had been directly notified about the project

Commissioner Erin McMurrian made similar statements.

Halstead said a notice about the public hearing in May was published in the El Dorado News-Times, as required, and no one attended the hearing to voice objections to or support of the project.

Patterson said he wonders if the storage units would "build up the quality of the (apartment) complex or bring it down."

"That's my concern as well, will it build value or bring it down and will it increase crime with a lot of people in and out?" said McMurrian.

She also noted that another, small apartment complex, Landmark Apartments, is adjacent to Terrace Villa and tenants there could potentially use the storage units.

Drake previously said the project is expected to take 90 days to complete.

The planning and zoning commission approved the variance request with a vote of 3 - 1. Patterson voted no.

Commissioners Netasha Williamson, Janice Long and Greg Williams were unable to attend the meeting.

Print Headline: Zoning commission approves conversion of apartment buildings' tennis court

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