A rezoning application by Heartland Real Estate Holdings before the Sunrise Beach Planning Commission inspired tension Monday night during further public hearing on the case.

A rezoning before the Sunrise Beach Planning Commission inspired tension Monday night during further public hearing on the case. 

After more opinion poured in during the commission meeting, the board tabled the issue for further consideration though they had been expected to come to a decision on a recommendation for the case.

Jason Todd with Heartland Real Estate Holdings has applied to rezone a five acre parcel on Highway 5 from C-1 neighborhood commercial to C-2 general commercial October 6, 2017. A C-1 designation includes primary uses for restaurants, offices, services, churches, daycares, schools, medical clinics and fire stations. A C-2 designation includes higher uses such as car services, hotels, large retailers, drive-through banks, bars, RV parks and theaters.

Heartland Real Estate Holdings purchased the property in recent months. It includes a large, warehouse-style building previously used to sell windows and components.

The board shared letters residents wrote expressing their feelings about the issue prior to getting into testimony from Todd and others in attendance at the meeting.

"We've got all these businesses doing things that have been grandfathered in. How are you going to change that and make a town the way you want it to, I mean, when they are already doing business there — boats and car dealerships and stuff like that? Why prohibit that the town [try to make] money and try to become something? I feel like you are limiting the town's growth," Todd asserted to the board members. 

Board members disagreed with his assertion that they were trying to limit growth.

Around five to seven people attended the meeting to support Todd's case, saying they wanted to see business growth in the village. The other half of the audience appeared to be in opposition to the rezoning.

"It sounds to me like we are holding Mr. Todd at a different level than all the other businesses here. I suggest that we grant the zoning request," Monty Krehbiel said.

Referencing letters of opposition to the rezoning, Linda Krehbiel added, "I don't understand one thing. You got a letter from four people. We have a small town here. Maybe there are people that don't even know about this issue going on. So you're basing your decision on those four letters and the handful of people here today and you represent all of Sunrise Beach, is that correct?" 

Planning Commission Chairman Gerald Jasper responded with a "Yes." Krehbiel answered, "Be careful, then."

Some board members are concerned about what Heartland Marine will become in the future and if making the property a C-2 designation will benefit the community in the long run.

The board has had hearings regarding this issue in the past. The planning commission heard opposition testimony in January following the initial presentation by the owner in December.

Jasper explained at the January hearing that the commission would be reviewing the requested zoning to consider how it fit with the Village of Sunrise Beach Master Plan which lays out the town’s vision for character and atmosphere of each part of the city.

Dean Underwood, owner of Shrimp Daddy's Restaurant, spoke about his concerns at the last meeting. He said he doesn't see the advantages in having a C-2 zoning next door from his business, worried that the higher use zoning could negatively impact his business and other existing businesses in the vicinity.

“It scares me that I could hypothetically have an asphalt plant next door,” Underwood said. “As it is, I don’t see how anything of benefit could go in here under C2. I see the potential for drawback.”

There have been concerns expressed by Underwood and others about what type of business might open at the location when Todd said that a specific type of business had not been selected. His plans were to lease the property. Todd claimed the property and building, as a ware-house style structure, could not be successfully leased under the primary uses allowed under C1 zoning. 

Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees Chairman and planning commissioner Curt Mooney also commented at the January hearing that the board could not change the zoning without a plan from Todd on what would go at the location under the requested zoning.

The next meeting of the commission is scheduled for Monday, April 2, 2018 at 6 p.m.