Building height amendment passes, PUD amendment and crosswalk amendment on second reading

The town of Signal Mountain is starting the new year off with some new recently passed ordinances.

Included is a change to the high-density residential zoning ordinance that makes the maximum allowable height of buildings within this designation no higher than 40 feet above finished grade elevation in the town.

“The idea is to sync up building heights throughout the community and through all zones to a maximum height of 40 feet,” explained Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk.

Vice Mayor Susan Robertson, who was involved in the research surrounding the change, said when Alexian Village came forward seeking to build a six-story building in the town, the Town Council at first thought it wasn’t allowed.

“We thought we couldn’t allow anything that big in the town. In the history of the town there’s been nothing quite so high,” said Robertson. “We were surprised to find it in the zoning and they [Alexian Village officials] were absolutely right on.”

The change to “sync up” allowable building heights across the town’s 12 zoning designations passed unanimously on second reading, with the exception of the absent Councilman Bill Wallace, and is now in effect.

During her research, Robertson also discovered that the planned unit development designation allowed a 60-foot building to be built in the town. The Council voted unanimously on first reading at its December meeting to change this restriction to 40 feet as well. The second reading will take place at the next meeting Monday, Jan. 14.

Also passed (unanimously) on first reading was a more restrictive ordinance protecting the right of way for pedestrians within the town. It establishes that pedestrians have the right of way while crossing the street in a crosswalk as well as when they are waiting to cross at a crosswalk.

“This is a more restrictive standard than state law,” said Councilman Dick Gee. “We’ve discussed that and we agree that’s the way we want it to be, but we need to educate people to make sure they understand that we are going to require a higher standard for this particular situation.”

Gee pointed out that many of the town’s crosswalks are school-related and kids can sometimes be unpredictable when crossing the street.

“Pedestrians also need to remember that it is their responsibility to make eye contact with the driver and make sure you have an understanding that the drivers know the law and they are going to abide by it before [the pedestrians step] out,” cautioned Councilwoman Annette Allen.

The ordinance’s second reading is also scheduled for the Town Council’s January meeting.

To hear the vote on the second reading of the PUD ordinance amendment, the crosswalk ordinance and an ordinance establishing a position for an administrative hearing officer, attend the next Signal Mountain Town Council meeting Monday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.


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