Pushback began and questions were raised Friday about the plan to revitalize a neighborhood west of downtown Madisonville.

City Zoning Administrator Debbie Todd told the city Zoning and Annexation Committee that she’s willing to remove a section of the Cherry Park plan dealing with accessory dwelling units — small homes placed on the same lot as an existing home.

“Having that extra income might keep somebody in their house,” Council member Adam Townsend said. “But I also see it as adding more rental facilities out there, where... the entire idea of this is to build home ownership.”

City Attorney Joe Evans had a different concern, involving enforcement. The current Cherry Park plan requires a homeowner to live in one of the dwellings when a lot has an ADU. But Evans noted homeowners die or move to other places.

“How long are we going to permit the principal dwelling not to be occupied by the owner?” Evans asked.

Todd said the Cherry Park plan had been revised so that ADUs had to be fixed to the ground. They could not be mobile homes, travel trailers or buses, and could not be used for rentals of less than 30 days such as Airbnb housing.

Committee Chair Frank Stevenson said there’s a need for accessible and affordable housing in Madisonville, and standalone rental properties are likely to be more expensive.

“It seems to me that you would probably have a lower rent for the same square footage,” Stevenson said.

Townsend also asked how developers decided to focus on Cherry Park first, instead of the Arch Street corridor.

“This is a huge area for what you’re talking about,” Townsend said. He admitted Arch Street is part of his Ward 3, but said it’s “what the community sees when you first come in” toward downtown Madisonville.

Arch Street was the focus of the city’s first “Clean Your Block” project in November.

“I hate to see it continue to get shuffled back,” Townsend said.

Stevenson noted a third area along McCoy Avenue also was marked for possible revitalization. He said Cherry Park was selected for “getting our feet wet” in the first improvement plan.

“We don’t want to set anybody up for failure,” Todd added.

Townsend went on to ask if developers owned properties in Cherry Park, which led to it being proposed first. Todd answered that it was never a topic of discussion in meetings.

No vote was taken on the Cherry Park plan, pending new adjustments.

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