The property, which houses an asphalt plant and hauling service, is currently zoned B-4 (I-22 business corridor). Jerry Bishop, the developer of the property, is asking that it be rezoned to M-2C (heavy industrial conditional) to allow for expansion of the businesses.
“We are using most the land, but there are two or three acres left that have not been developed,” Bishop told council members Tuesday. “To increase business, you have got to increase size. If you are going to produce more asphalt, you have got to put in a bigger plant.”
When the zoning restrictions were placed on properties in that area, the asphalt plant and hauling service was already there. The grandfather clause which allows the businesses to continue to operate does not allow for expansion. The clause also does not permit the business to be rebuilt if it is destroyed in a catastrophe.
“If something happens to our business, we can’t build back,” Bishop said. “If a tornado comes through or the building burns down, I can’t build back. All I am asking is that you take care of my business and keep these jobs in Jasper.”
City attorney Russ Robertson confirmed the business could not be rebuilt if it suffered more than 50 percent loss.
“The plant is a nonconforming use,” Robertson said. “It is allowed to continue but may not be expanded or rebuilt in the event of a catastrophe that damages more than 50 percent of the building. This change would permit replacing what is there and permit enlarging for this use, but would not permit any of the other industrial uses available in a straight M2.”
Council member Gary Gowen said he had received some calls expressing concerns about the amount of dust and odor that could be generated from an expansion.
“I know there was a lady who said she didn’t want to see an asphalt place in front of her property. It is already there and it is grandfathered in,” Bishop said. “Asphalt plants are under ADEM and EPA. The dust is going into filters. Asphalt is cooked so you’re going to have a little bit of a smell.”
City planner Keith Pike said the rezoning was sent to the council from the Jasper Planning and Zoning Commission with no recommendation.
“There wasn’t a quarum at the meeting, so by no recommendation it was actually approved,” Pike said.
Council member Jeb Daniel said he would like an opinion from the zoning commission.
“I am a little worried they didn’t give us an opinion,” he said.
Pike added the zoning commission had asked Bishop to place conditions on the rezoning, which included the property return to B-4 zoning if the business ends its operation.
Jennifer Smith, a newly-elected council member, said she needed more time to become familiar with the zoning process before voting on the issue. She asked to table the vote until the council’s Dec. 4 meeting.
“I think that would give us more time and allow us to make a better decision,” she said.
The council voted unanimously to close the public hearing on the issue and table its vote.