Planning Commission: Rumors Deli hits roadblock; Royal Technologies gets go-ahead

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Frank Fagg, of F & O Architects, and Rumors Deli’s Annette Harris address the Cullman City Planning Commission Monday evening. / W.C. Mann

Updated 11-8-17 8:29 a.m.

CULLMAN – On Monday evening, the City of Cullman Planning Commission reviewed site plans for Royal Technologies, Park View Homes and Rumors Deli.  Royal Technologies’ plan (construction of an additional 165,000-square-foot facility at the company’s current site) passed smoothly, and Park View Homes’ plan passed with an agreement from the developer to add more street lights.

And then it was time for Annette Harris, owner of Rumors Deli, to come forward and hear the commission talk over both the site plan and a conditional use agreement for her new location at 601 Fourth St. SW. (Rumors is moving from its current location in the Warehouse District sometime around the end of the year.) Frank Fagg, owner of F & O Architects, stood with her to answer questions.

The commission did approve the conditional use agreement, paving the way for the building to become a restaurant, but the site plan was a different story.  The plan, which included the addition of a pick-up window (which, according to Harris, could increase business by up to 30 percent), was dependent in its present form on unrestricted access to the half-block extension of Sixth Avenue Southwest that runs on the east side of the property.  That strip, though, was previously abandoned by the City, and ownership divided between Renew Development, the owner of the proposed Rumors building, and Cullman Savings Bank, which owns the lot on the other side of the street. 

The access agreement Cullman Savings Bank offered did not grant Rumors unconditional access.  Under that agreement, either the Rumors building owner or the bank could revoke the agreement at any time, with 30 days’ notice.  Such a revocation could cost Rumors access to its pick-up window, several needed parking spaces and possibly even access for trucks to its dumpster.

City Director of Building, Planning and Zoning Rick Fulmer said, “I’ve never seen an agreement written like this.  This is a first for me, because typically it’s a deeded access.  The typical, like you would expect, and like we discussed, would be that it would be deeded access as long as the restaurant is in operation.”

When it became obvious that the commission would turn down the proposed site plan, Fagg withdrew the request, assuring the commissioners he would return in December with a revised plan.

Both Harris and Fagg were caught off-guard by the outcome of the commission meeting.  Concerned that news of the issue with the Rumors/Cullman Savings Bank agreement would create a wrong impression about the relationship of the two entities, Harris released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:

“After getting so much feedback about the council meeting last night, I've decided it’s important to tell all our loyal customers and fans that we are ok.  It’s scary hearing about delays and people asking what we are going to do.  People love us.  We have tried to be good to our customers and give back to the community as much as we can and it has come back to us in a good way.

“The City is behind us.  Cullman Savings Bank and (bank president) John Riley are behind us.  The Chamber of Commerce is behind us.  Nearen Construction is behind us.  We have such a group of supporters rallying for us, it’s overwhelming and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of it.  No one is against us.  There are always going to be hitches and delays.  We just have to breathe and push through them.  The timing is for a reason and as impatient as I am, I know I just need to be patient and watch it happen.  God has a reason for the timing.  I've seen it too many times personally.

“We are excited beyond words for this new adventure.  We want to be part of what brings people to Cullman.  It’s exciting to know we are helping to preserve a Cullman historical landmark.  To think we will be one of the first things people see when entering Cullman from the interstate is flattering.  We are so proud to get this opportunity.  We may have never seen it, if things had not happened the way they did, so for that we are thankful.  At the time we didn't see it.  Sometimes blessings come when we least expect them and I truly believe this is one of them.

“I'm learning that every day is a new beginning.  You get another chance to start again.  Smile and enjoy it.”

In other business, the commission voted to send favorable recommendations to the Cullman City Council for the annexation of four properties into the city:

    –213 County Road 483, belonging to James B. Seymour

    –Three properties belonging to the City, but never annexed; located on Tanner Drive (submitted as Emil Road, but corrected by Fulmer), Mann Drive and Railroad Bed Road

The Cullman City Planning Commission usually meets on the first Monday of each month, at 5:30 p.m. in the Cullman City Hall auditorium.  The public is invited to attend.

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