Downtown residents concerned about possible rezoning


JASPER — Some Jasper residents are concerned with what the potential rezoning of a few lots of land on East Fifth Street could mean to their neighborhood.

Armed with a storage clipboard filled with documents, Mark Marshall, who resides at 410 E. Fifth St., detailed his and his neighbors’ issues with a zoning switch that could change four lots of land near his home from residential to heavy industrial.

According to a meeting agenda, Mehringer LLC, and Harold Murray are requesting the rezonings. The lots up for consideration are immediately behind the Mehringer Plumbing building located on East Fifth Street, and are currently zoned medium density residential.

“This is not what the comprehensive plan for the city of Jasper calls for,” Marshall said. “This is not what they want at all. They don’t want an industrial zone in a residential zone.”

He continued: “You’ve got the new library going in a half-block away. The entrance to the Riverwalk is a half-block away. We feel like that zoning this from residential to industrial is a big negative in that area.”

The proposed changes to the city’s zoning map will be discussed at today’s Jasper Plan Commission meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 610 Main Street.

In a Tuesday phone call, Dennis “Bucket” Mehringer with Mehringer Plumbing declined to comment on the possible rezoning, and said he wanted to wait and see how the Wednesday meeting turns out.

Residences in the area are surrounded by various other zoning districts. According to the ArcGIS zoning map on the city’s website, the Mehringer Plumbing property on nearby McCrillus Street is currently zoned heavy industrial, as is the adjacent Jasper Seating Company property and swaths of land to the northeast. Nearby lots to the west are zoned central business.

Per the city’s unified development ordinance, the heavy industrial district is intended for the high-impact processing and manufacturing of materials or products predominantly from extracted or raw materials, or manufacturing processes that potentially involve hazardous or commonly recognized offensive conditions.

“This district is intended to be located in areas that minimize land-use conflicts, and with good access to major thoroughfares (truck traffic does not disrupt traffic on local streets),” the ordinance reads.

Many of Marshall’s neighbors living on Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets from Mill Street east to Anderson Street have signed a petition protesting the rezonings; the petition has 68 signatures. Marshall said everyone who has opened their door to him has signed it.

He and his wife, Paula, moved into their home on Fifth Street in May 2017 after months of commuting to it from Fort Branch, while completing renovations. When they moved in, another house sat directly across the street from them, but that structure has since been leveled and the lot is now empty. Marshall is worried that what could come to the lot could devalue his property.

“If this lot had been across the street from our house, we would not have bought that house,” Marshall said. “We did not want to wake up every morning and walk out on the porch and see this at all. Nobody would.”

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