A group of concerned citizens gathered after the Planning Commission approved the concept plan for the West Longview Drive Sunflower Development. BONNIE FUSSELL

The Sunflower Development Concept Plan for a subdivision on West Longview Drive was approved by the Portland Planning Commission on Nov. 9, but the approval did not come without controversy.

The neighbors in that area are fighting to keep the three lodging homes designed for those with disabilities out of the subdivision.

Goodall Homes representative Marty Cook with Spencer Fane Bone McAllester sent a letter dated Nov. 2 to the Portland Planning Commission and the Planning/Codes Department regarding the approval for a concept plan for the Sunflower Development.

In that letter, Cook outlined the proposal for the 25.24 acres zoned RS-40 (single-family low density residential) and RM-1 (high density residential). He explained in the letter that all but three lots would be used as single-family residential units. The remaining three lots would be used as lodging homes. The lodging homes will be for housing of those with disabilities.

Cook stated in the letter that the concept plan is not seeking to change the existing zoning and is just seeking an administrative review. He listed court cases where the rulings prohibited denial of an administrative review because of residents’ fears, opinions, and beliefs. In addition, reviews could not be denied because residents had concerns about the lowering of their property values.

City Attorney John Bradley told the planning commission that when someone has the zoning for a project that they need, if they submit a plan that complies with all the city requirements then you have little discretion for denying.

Longview resident Vickie Hunter asked for clarification on what was required for people to live there. Others expressed safety concerns with children and grandchildren in the neighborhoods, as well as a school being nearby.

In earlier meetings when the developer was asking for rezoning, the homes were described as disability housing which would be made available to men and women with brain injuries, mental illness, autism, physical disabilities, and anyone who needs help.

Several expressed concern over the drainage issues that the subdivision would create because there is some problem now with flooding in the area.

Ewing Drive resident Kay Wiseman stated, “The drainage was so bad now that I don’t feel anything should be built there.”

Director of Utilities Bryan Price assured the residents that there would be no problem with the drainage and that they would hold the developer to a high standard.

The city is under a sewer tap moratorium and construction of the subdivision cannot begin until more sewer taps are released by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

Price added that he thought the TDEC might ease up on the sewer tap moratorium and allow more taps in the future because the department can see the progress the city is making. The Planning and Zoning Department recommended approval of the concept plan.

Since the plan met the requirements of the city, the planning commission had no choice but to approve the plan.

The next step will be for Goodall Homes to present a preliminary plan to the Planning and Zoning Department.