Last week, when the Memphis City Council voted to extend the voting period for a planned warehouse development in Whitehaven, resident leaders were taken off guard.
"I'm just spent out," said Clarissa Davis. "I've used all of my resources, my time, my money, my energy, fighting this, and then [council members] do something like this. I can't believe it."
Davis and other residents of the Holmesdale subdivision off Airways Road have opposed the construction of two warehouses on 81 acres by Industrial Development International (IDI). They have been through two postponements by the council, presentations before the Land Use Control Board (LUCB), and community meetings with company representatives.
The City Council voted five to seven on a motion by Scott McCormick to delay the vote on the development until July 20 to give members an opportunity to visit and survey the proposed site. The plans for the development had already been rejected by the Office of Planning and Development (OPD) and the LUCB. The land is currently undeveloped and contains dense forest.
The decision to postpone the vote was opposed by some council members, including TaJuan Stout Mitchell. "There is a reason why LUCB and OPD said no," she said. "If we allow this to slide, there are three more [warehouse proposals] waiting."
OPD principal planner Sheila Pounder maintained that the development was in direct conflict with the Whitehaven-Levi Planning District Study. The land, which sits in the flight-path of airport and Federal Express runways, is not suitable for residential use.
Which would make the warehouse plan ideal, said IDI attorney Richard Fields. "This is a $50 million development and will produce at least $1 million per year in tax [revenues]," he said.
Residents argued that the warehouse did not fit into the composition of the neighborhood and that the land could be maintained as a greenspace and turned into a park.