I hadn’t planned on writing a column this week, but then I attended Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The board met to act upon a request from a homeowner on Puryears Bend Road who wanted to open a fitness studio in her home, while also offering nutritional counseling, group workouts and paddleboard classes on the Cumberland River from the back of her property.
Board members voted 3-2 to deny the request, and I think they were wrong to do so.
Nearby property owners complained about the potential for added traffic in the area, which sounds like a legitimate concern except that the proposal would have allowed just three cars per day, five days a week. If 15 cars over the course of a week is a traffic concern, some of these folks need to join the 21st century.
Other complaints included the potential use of the property as an Airbnb-type establishment or past events held during the summer when the homeowner operated their business under an agreement with county government.
One person complained about not wanting changes to the peace and quiet enjoyed from country living. While there’s certainly something to be said for that, that “not in my backyard” attitude often prevents anything from happening around here.
Look at downtown Hartsville as a perfect example. Little has changed downtown (with some exceptions in recent years) and as a result the area has stagnated. Times change, and people need to deal with that.
As an observer, I felt board members took these arguments into account when making their decision. However the BZA was only considering four specific uses of the property – none of which were related to past or potential activity. I don’t believe those should have been given any weight, as they had no relevance to the issue at hand.
We complain about the lack of businesses in Hartsville and the lack of anything for people to do. Then someone tries to come in and provide an opportunity, and they’re shot down by neighbors and a board unwilling to ruffle feathers (or at least that’s how I saw it).
Middle Tennessee is a booming area – just look around. Other communities are welcoming that growth and working to accommodate it.
Sometimes I just wish Hartsville would be that forward thinking.
Chris Gregory is editor of The Hartsville Vidette. Reach him at 615-374-3556 or email@example.com.