The authority asked for a postponement of its request to rezone 35.28 acres on Old Alabama Road near Highway 92 for an expansion of the 100-plus acre Cherokee 75 Corporate Park late Thursday, according to Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens.
Commissioners, who get the final say on rezoning requests, had been expected to take up the issue at their meeting Tuesday.
In early April, the Cherokee County Planning Commission voted 5-3 against the request, sending the plans to the Board of Commissioners. Members of the Planning Commission had concerns that the development didn’t fit with the county’s land use plan, and residents decried the potential park add-on as a threat to the area.
Misti Martin, president of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, said the delay was to “address some of the feedback from the Planning Commission and to work with a prospective client.”
The authority, which is the governing body for the county-sponsored COED, was requesting the land to be rezoned as light industrial, so it could be marketed to businesses to bring money and jobs to the county.
With uncertainty about what businesses would be recruited, residents spoke out at the Planning Commission meeting, airing worries about the industrial operations setting up in the mostly residential area. Potential truck traffic on Old Alabama Road was also a concern.
Asked for his thoughts on the development Wednesday, Commissioner Jason Nelms, who represents the area of the development, said he planned to keep an open mind to both sides of the issue.
“In principle, it is hard to not be open to all sides in a zoning case, especially before a vote is cast,” he said. “I will remain open and plan to research as much information as possible before I reach a decision.”
Ahrens said he didn’t want to comment, because of the authority’s request to postpone.
Commissioner Harry Johnston said he was surprised by the residents against the development.
“I admit I’m a little surprised by the opposition,” he said before the request to postpone Thursday. “I thought they understood the area was becoming primarily light industrial.”
Johnston said the county has had big demand for the existing Cherokee 75 park.
“We’ve had tremendous demand for space in that industrial park, and we need to expand it if we can,” he said. “It’s the best opportunity we have for quality economic development and new job creation in the county. But we do have to consider the impact on the surrounding residents.”
Commissioners Brian Poole and Ray Gunnin didn’t respond to an email asking for their thoughts by deadline.