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Allow Martin Coffeehouse to Keep Their Lights

This petition had 3,169 supporters

On Tuesday, February 18th, the City of Martin and the Historic Zoning Commission of Martin voted to force Martin's Coffee & Bakery (formerly known as "Martin Coffeehouse") to remove their outside lighting under the grounds that it was "unhistorical". The people of Martin, Tennessee did not get a say in this vote and were not made aware of this decision by the Historic Zoning Commission or the City of Martin, but rather through FaceBook from Martin's Coffee & Bakery own page. 

Martin's Coffee & Bakery has kept the same style of lights outside of their shop since opening in 2017. For almost three years, neither the City of Martin or the Historic Zoning Commission have expressed a problem with these lights—until now.

The Historical Zoning Commission does not have a solid definition of what is deemed 'historical.' In the Historic Zoning Handbook, the Historic Zoning Commission is granted the following power:

  1. "(3)  Upon review of the application for a building permit, the Historic Zoning Commission shall give prime consideration to: 
    1. historic and/or architectural value of present structure;
    2. the relationship of exterior architectural features of such structures to the rest of the structures of the surrounding area;
    3. the general compatibility of exterior design arrangement, texture and materials proposed to be used. 
    4. to any other factor, including aesthetic, which is deemed pertinent."

Since the owners of Martin's Coffee & Bakery were approved to remodel the historic building and allowed to put the lights up (and keep them up for almost three years) at the approval of the Historic Zoning Commission, the question arises of why the Historic Zoning Commission is now deciding to force Martin's Coffee & Bakery to take down a piece of their own history. 

The Historic Zoning Commission is also granted Design Guidelines, which state that:

  1. "Appropriateness of work must be determined in order to accomplish the goals of historic zoning, as outlined in this section as follows:
    1. to preserve and protect the historical and/or architectural value of building or other structures;
    2. to regulate exterior design, arrangement, texture, and materials proposed to be used within the historic district to ensure compatibility;
    3. to create an aesthetic appearance which complements the historic buildings or other structures;
    4. to stabilize and improve property values;
    5. to foster civic beauty;
    6. to strengthen the local economy; and
    7. to promote the use of historic districts for education, pleasure, and welfare of the present and future citizens of Martin, Tennessee.

Martin's Coffee & Bakery fulfills almost every consideration. The lights at Martin's Coffee & Bakery drew customers, which in turn strengthened the local economy, the money gained from customers drawn by the lights allowed renovations that improved the property values, and the beauty of the lights no doubt fostered civic beauty, as well as pride among the People of Martin every time they enter Martin's Coffee & Bakery.

With the ruling to force Martin's Coffee & Bakery to remove these lights, the question is now raised as to how the notion that these lights are subjectively 'unhistorical' outweighs the good that these lights brought to not only the beauty of Historic Downtown Martin but the economy of Martin overall. 

Finally, in the Historic Zoning Commission Handbook, there are guidelines for alterations, which includes a section for lighting. There are only two guidelines for lighting, which are:

  1. "Lighting:
    1. Original style light fixtures should be retained
    2. Recessed or ceiling mounted fixtures not visible from the street are appropriate."

The hanging lights do not violate either of these guidelines since they do not harm the original style light fixtures nor are they recessed or ceiling-mounted fixtures. Therefore, the question is again raised as to why the City of Martin and the Historic Zoning Commission came to the decision to force Martin's Coffee & Bakery to remove their outside lighting?



The people of Martin were not allowed to have a say in this matter, and this ruling was not made known to a majority of the public. The People of Martin feel that the City of Martin and the Historic Zoning Commission did not care that the people did not get a voice. We, the People of Martin, wish to make it clear we deserve a voice in our town, and we say that these lights are an important part to the history of Martin's Coffee & Bakery, as well as the economic growth that Martin's Coffee & Bakery brings to our town. We ask that both the Historic Zoning Commission leaders and the City of Martin Board of Mayor & Aldermen heed the people of Martin's petition and reverse their ruling.

Historic Zoning Commission Leaders:

  • Chairman: Lynette Wagster
  • Vice-Chairman: Stephanie Mueller 

Historic Zoning Handbook

City of Martin Board of Mayor & Aldermen

  • Mayor: Randy Brundige
  • Vice-Mayor and Alderman, Ward 1: Danny Nanney
  • Alderman, Ward 1: Scott Robbins
  • Alderman, Ward 2: Marvin Flatt
  • Alderman, Ward 2: David Belote
  • Alderman, Ward 3: Randy Edwards
  • Alderman, Ward 3: Terry Hankins

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