Commonwealth Journal

News Live

March 14, 2014

Potter is cross with City Council

Balks at paying fee for application to erect giant crucifix on U.S. 27

Somerset —

Somerset officials heard again this week from a Tennessee man hoping to build a large cross within city limits. 
During Monday’s Somerset City Coun-cil meeting, James Potter, of Helen-wood, Tenn., said he continues to try to work through the planning and zoning process in hopes of constructing a 60-foot-tall cross on private property near South U.S. 27 between lights 11 and 12. 
“My prayer is we that get that cross up,” said Potter.
Potter appeared during a February city council meet-ing, during which he was told that all requests to build within the city limits must go through the city’s Planning and Zoning Department — an entity separate from city council. 
On Monday, Potter said he attempted to put his application in but was turned down.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler and City of Somerset Attorney Carrie Wiese said the application has yet to be processed because it requires an application fee. 
Potter said he was told to pay $375 — an amount determined by the cost of the project — but that the fee was for an appeal, not to process the application. 
“I’m sorry if you understood it that way sir, but nothing has been turned down yet,” said Wiese. 
Potter said the proposed project will cost around $40,000. He expressed some concern about filing the application fee without knowing whether the project would be approved. 
“I want approval before I do,” said Potter. “I’m not going to spend my money for nothing.” 
Girdler said everyone who files applications must submit a fee, regardless of whether the project is approved. 
The city’s Planning and Zoning Department oversees community development and construction. Certain geographic areas, or zones, are restricted to certain uses and development, such as industrial, light industrial, commercial, light commercial, agricultural, single-family residential, multi-unit residential, parks, and schools, among others. That’s according to information on the department provided at the city’s website: 

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