East Rome rezonings clear first hurdle
City commissioners will have the final say on two office-to-home conversions and a car repair shop.
Two vacant houses converted to offices in East Rome will be back on the market as homes, if the City Commission follows the recommendation of its planning review board.
The Rome-Floyd Planning Commission unanimously backed on Thursday real estate agent Jonathan Harris’ applications for rezonings at 332 E. Seventh St. — next to Long John Silver’s on Turner McCall Boulevard — and 1109 E. Second Ave. fronting Dean Avenue.
“I’ve been trying to lease it as an office but there’s limited parking,” Harris said about the Seventh Street site. “I’ve had literally hundreds of calls from people wanting residential, so we want to get it back to its original use.”
Associate Planner Brice Wood said he fielded numerous calls from people in the Old East Rome neighborhood concerned about the pending rezonings. But they all supported the change once they found out what Harris has in mind.
The properties are currently zoned for community commercial use and Harris is seeking neighbor- hood-office- commercial zoning. Planning Director Artagus Newell said the designation would allow flexibility.
“It could be used as an office or a single-family home,” Newell said. “It’s a nice transition between ... commercial properties and Old East Rome.”
Planning Commission member Logan Boss said he recalls the struggle to protect the neighborhood from commercial encroachment and approves of the conversions. County Commissioner Wright Bagby, a former mayor of Rome, also weighed in with a memory of his grandmother’s house before it, and others, were condemned to widen Turner McCall.
“I know the East Rome area is glad to see these commercial properties being turned back into residential. It should have been NOC to begin with,” he said.
A bit farther down Dean Avenue, next to the Pick O Deli restaurant, a tire shop also got backing to expand into automotive repair.
“When you have a successful business, people start asking, ‘Can you do this? Can you do that?’” said Howard Gray, representing
the property owner.
The planning commission unanimously recommended a rezoning to heavy commercial from community commercial use — but not before a discussion about storing the cars away from the road.
“That’s a corridor coming into Rome. We work hard to get those cleaned up,” said member Tom Bennett.
Newell said the Unified Land Development Code has some restrictions in place and Gray is working with Building Official Howard Gibson on the matter.
The Rome City Commission will make the final decision on all three rezonings following public hearings at its Nov. 26 meeting.