Sunrise Beach Planning and Zoning Commission met Monday night to continue discussion on a change requested by Jason Todd (owner of Heartland Real Estate Holdings and an area marine business).

Sunrise Beach Planning and Zoning Commission met Monday night to continue discussion on a change requested by Jason Todd (owner of Heartland Real Estate Holdings and an area marine business). The request was made to rezone a five acre parcel at 16238 N. Highway 5 from C-1 Neighborhood Commercial to C-2 General Commercial. Todd brought the request forward claiming the use would be for further sales and service in the area. The commission would later deny the request after much community engagement.

Around 50 community members attended the meeting, which saw discussion stemming from both sides of the decision. Ron Yarbrough, who was the first to make a public comment, made the point that if the zone is changed, there would be no telling what the potential outcome and use of the property would be. He said that when a property owner makes a purchase, they should be aware of the zoning laws in which they are investing into.

Todd responded immediately, saying the property purchased within the zone was over 10,000 square foot to begin with, which was already against the zoning laws. He claimed that many of the businesses within the area were not aware that the zone they worked in was currently labeled C1, and that the change would be beneficial to all included.

Other questions came forth about the added foot traffic from restaurants and the legality of present restaurants serving alcohol within a C1 zone. Commission members clarified that restaurants are legally allowed to serve alcohol in a C1 zone as long as the original intent for the property was a restaurant and bar services were added on later.

Planning and Zoning member Bonnie McLeod said the Planning and Zoning commission’s goal was to keep that entrance of town in a beautified, welcoming state. She also mentioned other reasons the board was leaning against the zoning, including going along with the master plan in place to make sure issues don’t surface in the future.

Chairman Gerald Jasper explained that the city needed to maintain an image that will look attractive to other businesses. With the nearly in place Sunrise Beach opportunity zone, Jasper said that development should start to move in the right direction.

“Most of us won’t be around to see what Sunrise Beach ultimately can become,” Jasper said.

The meeting continued with heavy community discussion surrounding the lack of business growth in Sunrise Beach and whether or not this type of expansion was beneficial for the city. Some community members expressed their interest in having additional income to the city by allowing this business to operate, stating that there was no way to predict what might happen with the C-2 site in the future and that some business is better than none.

Shrimp Daddy restaurant owner Dean Underwood, which presides in the zone in question, says his biggest concern was the uncertainty as to what Todd would be doing in the future, as he provided few concrete plans. He also questioned the commissions master plan and the ways they are looking to provide future business in town. Jasper responded by claiming their vision for Sunrise Beach was to keep natural and scenic qualities in tact and to not allow the village to submit to disorganized spread.

Member Dawn Merrill eventually asked the present community members to raise hands individually as to whether they were for or against the change. No official count was made on the vote, though Merrill said she believed it looked evenly split.

The vote was finally made by the four present members of the Planning and Zoning commission with a final count of 3-1 in favor of denial. The request with the recommendation against it will be forwarded to the Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees.