NEWS HEADLINES

Council, citizens debate carport issue

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, April 12, 2014

Carports proved to be a hot topic at the Rhome City Council meeting Thursday.

Residents engaged in a heated discussion over allowing the structures in newer parts of town, like Crown Point. The current ordinance only regulates the structures in “Old Town.”

“I’ve lived in neighborhoods before where this has been an issue, adding carports,” said resident Diane Fletcher. “What it started looking like was a trailer park … Things started looking trashy … I think it’s definitely not going to make Rhome look very good. I don’t want Rhome looking like a trailer park.”

Fellow citizen Sue Isbell concurred.

“Most of the people I’ve talked to do not want carports,” she said. “We’ve lived in that neighborhood for eight years. We had zoning restrictions, and we knew that when we moved there. This has gone on for years about putting carports there. This would depreciate our property value and take away the beauty of our neighborhood.

“We take pride in our homes, and this would not be an appropriate zoning change because it truly would bring the neighborhood values down.”

Nathan Robertson spoke up for the other side.

“I’m all for carports,” he said. “There is no homeowner’s association where we live at. The carports are going to protect my cars. Have you seen the hailstorms that came to Denton and tore up all the cars?”

“We all have garages,” Isbell retorted.

When Robertson asked if her garage was clean enough to get her car in, Isbell said one is.

“OK. Mine’s not, and I have three vehicles at my house,” he said.

When Isbell suggested he get an outbuilding to store his belongings, Robertson informed her he had one and it wasn’t big enough.

“Well you know what? Have a garage sale, I guess,” she said.

Mayor Chris Moore hammered the gavel, insisting all discussion be directed at the council.

“I’ve lived here for 24 years, and I don’t think it’s going to decrease my property value,” Robertson said. ” … There’s a lot more to worry about with eyesores than carports.”

Tony Isbell said he would not be against carports that met certain requirements. Otherwise, he said, they can be “a blight.”

“A blight is a disease and a deterioration and it takes away from everybody else, and I don’t want to do this to Rhome,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to do this to Rhome.”

Citizen Jimmy Johnson stood in the crowd and labeled himself the guilty one.

“I’ve pushed and pushed and pushed and will continue to push until you kill me,” he said, ” … a carport is nothing but a property increase in value. You don’t have one. I have one. Identical houses sitting side by side. I can get more for mine than you can get for yours. I’ve got a boat, a $20,000 little sports car – all I want to do is protect it.”

Sue offered another alternative.

“When somebody has that much property, or toys, they really need a big lot,” she said. “Why would somebody move into a neighborhood like ours and accumulate all this stuff and expect the rest of the neighborhood to adjust to what they want?”

“… and make it look like a car lot,” Fletcher added.

Later in the meeting she asked the council how much research they had done on the matter.

“It’s not a simple matter,” she said. “You’re affecting a lot of your citizens one way or another. I think some more in-depth investigation of what this can do to your community [is needed].”

The council did not approve an ordinance that outlined building standards for carports, essentially permitting them.

Instead Council member Charles Pennington volunteered to conduct an impact study, and officials will consider allowing the structures on a case-by-case basis, as suggested by Council member Jo Ann Wilson.

“I am the owner of a carport, and I’d hate to beat somebody up,” she said. “Mine is attached to my home, it has brick and the roofline goes with it. It’s served a purpose for me … I’d like to see it be a special exception because it wouldn’t just apply to Crown Point. It would apply to Old Town and any other additions that we have. It would be a one-by-one exception.”

Councilwoman Michelle Pittman agreed with the idea.

“I like that idea because I think the people that really want to have the carports, that would do a good job, will go through the effort,” she said. “If we just do a blanket one we’re more likely to have people just throw stuff up.”

The city attorney chimed in, “… and end up with something that doesn’t fit … This way the council and everybody else has input.”

Councilman Pennington asked residents who opposed the idea how they felt about the special-exception system.

“I think it’s going to inhibit the growth, or even more building of subdivisions,” Tony Isbell said.

“Jo Ann Wilson has a carport; Crown Point didn’t fall apart,” Johnson retorted. “Louis has a carport; Crown Point is still there.”

“I didn’t drive by Jo Ann Wilson’s house to get to Crown Point,” Tony Isbell said.

“But did you drive by Ramah Burns’ house?” Robertson interjected. “You had to have.”

“But that’s the older Rhome, though,” Sue Isbell said. “There were no zoning restrictions when you did that.”

Mayor Moore sounded his gavel again and allowed one more comment.

“City of Saginaw – BOOM!,” Johnson proclaimed. “And they have carports everywhere.”

The council will hold another public hearing and further discuss the matter at its meeting in June.

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