Bigham Knoll development seeks another event space

Planning director: Other conditions must be met before change is approved

JACKSONVILLE — Owners of the Bigham Knoll development want to change an approved space use plan on their campus, but city planning officials are suggesting that previous conditions for the 7.5-acre property must be met first.

Planning commissioners will wrestle with the issue when they meet at 6 p.m. today in Old City Hall, 205 W Main St., to consider a request to allow an event space where an apartment had been authorized.

City Planning Director Amy Stevenson also has requested more information than was submitted, but Bigham Knoll co-owner Brooke Ashland asserted her right for a hearing, stating that the application was complete.

Bigham Knoll is a mixed-use development that includes business offices, a restaurant, a pre-school and meeting space on a former school site. The development has encountered some controversies since its approval in 2007.

Nearby residents in 2011 complained of disturbances from a separate prep kitchen area that had been established without building permits or county Health Department approval. Ultimately, the use was approved with conditions.

"There are still a number of outstanding conditions of approval," said Stevenson. "We would like a resolution to them before we issue another building permit."

Ashland did not return phone calls seeking comment on the application.

The commission has several options: It could approve the event space but withhold permits until conditions are met. It could continue the request to allow time for sufficient information to be submitted. Or it could deny the request.

"We have the authority in the code to not process a new application until all previous conditions have been met or we have the authority to not issue a new building permit," said Stevenson.

Officials also can fine property owners for every day an infraction occurs, but Stevenson said the city prefers to work with owners toward a resolution.

Some errors made in record keeping may have been occurred before she became planner in 2010, Stevenson said. The city would welcome any records that may show conditions have been met or requirements may be different based on earlier rulings, she said.

Incomplete items deal with parking, traffic flow, lighting, fencing and landscaping. Among them are:

  • Construction of a 4-foot-tall fence to screen vehicle headlights from nearby residences. Ashland responded in writing that the fence would be built once landscaping is completed.
  • Completion of an agreement with the city to use the Blackstone Alley right-of-way on the campus' western boundary for parking. Parking is occurring there now, said Stevenson, but without any agreement.

As a new use, the event space also must meet nine performance-use criteria in city code designed to protect the town's historical character.

Bigham Knoll was found to comply with seven of the criteria. Staff did not find enough evidence in the application to support findings that the use would not create a nuisance nor to judge the number of vehicle trips the space would generate.

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.