Olive Branch City Hall

Olive Branch City Hall

Olive Branch aldermen will allow a company to set up a new temporary fireworks sales site at one location in the city but not at another, after residents protested one particular site during Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting. 

Another zoning application for development that would include 116 single-family homes and townhouses was tabled until July after strong opposition by neighbors near the proposed site.

Meramec Specialty Company sought zoning changes that would allow it to set up a temporary fireworks sales location on 1.15 acres of land at the corner of Germantown Road and Stateline Road. It also wanted a zoning change for 1.38 acres at state Highway 302 and Alexander Road.

It was the Germantown/Stateline Road site that brought neighbors to Tuesday’s meeting to protest the zoning change to allow seasonal fireworks sales as a conditional use for the land.

Opponents were concerned about additional traffic that would result, the fact the location is considered a northern “gateway” to the city from Memphis, and concerns about their property values going down as reasons for denying the zoning change.

Opposition even came from an official of Methodist-Olive Branch Hospital, which owns the property and at one time considered building the hospital at the site.

Stephen Steinbach, a planner with UrbanInsites, working with Meramec Specialty Company, however tried to refute the argument of fireworks reducing the property value.

“I’m unaware of any statistics that suggest a fireworks stand located on a property for 40-45 days out of a year on a temporary basis would devalue the property,” Steinbach said. “This is a temporary permitted use in the city. When the city’s timeframe has expired, we will leave the site with little remnants of temporary use in place.”

The City Planning Commission had recommended denial of the Germantown/Stateline site and Alderman Gil Earhart had asked to table the proposal, but the motion failed for the lack of a second.

Alderman Dale Dickerson followed with a motion to deny the zoning change, which was seconded and the motion to deny was agreed on a split vote.

The temporary conditional use for the Alexander Road/Goodman Road location passed after support from the Planning Commission and a 5-2 vote from the Board of Aldermen, with Earhart and Alderwoman Pat Hamilton voting against the move.

It was the issue of a development plan for “The Preserve at Cedar Bluff” development that brought out even more opposition at Tuesday’s meeting.

The proposal is to rezone to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) four parcels of land totaling 40 acres that are located on the east end of April Springs Drive, the north end of Chatelet Drive, and south of U.S. Highway 78. The land is currently zoned Agricultural/Residential and Multiple Family Residential.

The developer has proposed a 50 lot single-family subdivision and the construction of 66 town homes, for a total of 116 domicile units.

Opposition to plan was strong at the Tuesday meeting from neighbors near the site, including at least three people who thought they should have been informed about the public hearing ahead of time, but were not.

The opponents who spoke to the issue included Justice Court Judge Ken Adams of Olive Branch and one of his concerns was to the additional traffic the development would attract.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation says the national average is 1.88 vehicles per home,” Adams said. “In Olive Branch, we’re probably closer to 2.5 vehicles per home. But even at 1.88 vehicles per home, we’re talking about 218 vehicles going through that residential area.”

Adams also noted another similar high-density subdivision in the area was defeated a number of years ago that included between 40-45 homes. Adams said he didn’t understand why a similar plan would be backed that would bring three times the number of residential units to a similar-sized area.

After a motion on the rezoning failed for a lack of a second, Alderman At Large George Collins moved to have the issue tabled to the July 7 meeting, as he hoped developers would be able to speak with neighbors and both hear their side of the plan. That motion was approved.