“We aren’t rezoning anything. We are amending our code.” – Councilman Chad Gilbert

Thursday night, the Cookeville City Council followed up a vote to approve an amendment to the zoning code on May 3 with a second reading approval of the measure. 

To recap, at the Feb. 26 Planning Commission meeting, the commission denied a request to rezone property at 1225 South Willow Avenue in Cookeville from CI (Commercial Industrial) to MS (Medical Services) for the potential location of a nonresidential substitution-based treatment-based institution for opioid addiction. On March 25, the Commission recommended a zoning code amendment due to possible “violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Recovery Act (both federal acts).” 

The city council approved the amendment on first reading May 3.

“The previous zoning code had just a few items that allowed facilities such as this to have restrictions,” said Counilman Eric Walker. “We have entered a much more comprehensive list of things required within our zoning code. That’s the most layman’s way to put this. And good zoning makes better neighbors, and helps protect our houses, neighborhoods and cities.”

Walker said the more comprehensive code is working. Cedar Recovery LLC recently posted a notice of intent for a certificate of need on property outside the city limits at 1805 Burgess Falls Road in the County.

“It’s kind of obvious because they already moved out of town,” he said. 

Councilman Chad Gilbert said this is not a rezoning.

“We aren’t rezoning anything,” said Gilbert. “We are amending our code.”

City Manager James Mills says the amendment has been reviewed by city legal staff and recommended by the planning commission. Following a motion to approve by Councilman Eric Walker, and a second by Councilman Gilbert. 

The measure passed unanimously.

The amendment eliminates restrictions that a methadone clinic (or something similar) is not allowed “closer than 1,500 feet from property zoned or used as residential, schools, child care facilities, playgrounds, parks and churches and 1,500 feet from the nearest property line” and can be “located on a street with a classification of less than major collector status.”

It also deletes the current code and adds definitions for “Regional Medical Services” including “Any non-institutional facility in an office environment of solo or group practice providing outpatient surgical, medical, dental, chiropractic, optical, osteopathic diagnostic and similar services, for humans, by physicians, dentists and other health care practitioners that anticipates serving more than 150 patients per day or which dispenses controlled substances for use on-site, or which provides minor surgical procedures that involve the use of any general or regional anesthetic. In addition, this use includes any facility or use for which a Certificate of Need from the State of Tennessee is required for operation.”

The amendment also added “Regional Medical Services” as a use permitted on appeal if:

  • A Certification of Need (CON) is required from the State of Tennessee for the proposed use, the property owner or authorized agent shall obtain the Certificate of Need (CON) to operate the facility as a condition of Board of Zoning Appeals approval.
  • The Facility shall be fully licensed with the appropriate federal and/or state agency if required. 
  • The facility shall be located on a street of no less than Major Arterial Classification.
  • All activities shall be conducted within the building and adequate indoor waiting areas shall be provided.  No outdoor waiting is permitted.
  • The indoor waiting area shall be open to all patients 30 minutes prior to patients being seen.
  • The facility shall post a conspicuous sign stating that loitering is prohibited on the property.
  • The petitioner shall provide the name and phone number of the community relations contact who will respond to concerns and complaints.
  • The petitioner shall provide the name and phone number of the community relations contact who will respond to concerns and complaints.
  • The facility shall not be located adjacent to a district zoned RS-20, RS-15, RS-10, RS 7.5, RS-5, or RD, or any property used for residential purposes unless separated by a public street as shown on the official street map.

Photo via the City of Cookeville.

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