Cullman City Council votes ‘No’ on controversial rezoning request

Morningside resident Linda Romine, with attorney Albert Boykin and husband Leonard Romine, listen as the council prepares to vote Monday evening. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman City Council on Monday evening stunned residents in the neighborhood around Morningside Drive by agreeing with them, at least for now.  Council members voted unanimously against the rezoning of a 10-acre parcel at the intersection of Morningside Drive Southwest and Main Avenue Southwest, bringing months of speculation, debate and organized community action to a satisfying conclusion for neighborhood residents who had crowded into city hall for this and the last several council and planning commission meetings.

Morningside Drive resident Linda Romine and her husband Leonard Romine spearheaded the organized neighborhood effort, and the couple was once again on the front row Monday evening, accompanied by their attorney Albert Boykin.  They, their neighbors and supporters sat silent as the “No” votes began in the verbal roll call vote, as though no one could quite figure out what was happening. When the results of the vote began to sink in, the crowd erupted into applause.

Afterward, Linda Romine told The Tribune, “I’m just very thrilled that they did listen to us, finally, in the end.”

Boykin added, “I’m just proud to be a part of it.  This is a neighborhood and citizens banding together and fighting for a single cause.  We appreciate the council’s vote tonight, and it turned out our way, so we’re appreciative.”

Councilman Clint Hollingsworth addressed the crowd with a note of caution after the vote, saying, “For me, I want you guys and everybody else in the city of Cullman to realize: if you’ve got a piece of property that has not been purchased- that is open, vacant, whatever- regardless of the size, you need to understand we’re growing.  

“This city is the best on the planet, as far as I’m concerned.  Something will get developed there. It may be a business, it may be a home, it may be apartments; it could be a number of things.  We, as a city council, are going to do our due diligence to improve and set rezoning ordinances and all these things to update these subdivision guidelines.  We’re already working on a lot of this.

“We’re growing, and it’s a great thing.  But, that being said, you need to realize: whether it’s this piece of property or anything else in the city, something will get developed there.  It may be sooner than later, but you need to understand that.

“So, if something pops up, y’all did the right thing: you followed it, were involved. You came to these meetings, and I appreciate that.  But this is the situation: you need to understand that something, eventually, will probably go there. And so, who knows what that will be or when it will be?”

After the meeting, Linda Romine responded to Hollingsworth’s statements, saying, “We’ll be going to all the planning and zoning committee meetings and all the city council meetings, because it’s just like Clint said: there’ll be somebody else wanting to buy that 10 acres.  We may even look into having our neighborhood rezoned to R-1.”

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W.C. Mann