Cullman council recognizes police achievements, considers new zoning ordinance

Left to right are Councilman Clint Hollingsworth, Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper, Council President Jenny Folsom, Councilman Andy Page, Cullman Police Capt. Gene Bates, Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and Councilman Johnny Cook. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Officers from the Cullman Police Department (CPD) joined the Cullman City Council Monday evening, when the council recognized the achievements of three officers:

  • Lt. Jeff Warnke received his 25-year service pin.
    • Warnke has worked in patrol and investigation, and has commanded the department’s Honor Guard and Traffic Homicide Unit. He has served as a field training officer, and has supervised CPD operations at Rock the South.
    • Capt. Gene Bates said of Warnke, “He’s a self-motivator. Typically, after somebody’s been here 25 years, that enthusiasm runs out; they don’t get excited about going and answering that call, responding to that wreck, making that traffic stop. That’s one thing about Lt. Warnke: his job is actually to be a supervisor, but typically, every day when I call, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ ‘Hey, well, I caught a call for somebody’ or caught a wreck or whatever. I describe him as being a self-motivator. Any time I ever ask him to do something, need something, it’s always taken care of.”
  • Sgt. Scott Sanford was promoted to lieutenant
    • Sanford has served with the CPD for 13 years, in patrol, investigation and mid-shift (drug enforcement). He is also a member of and instructor for the department’s tactical team.
    • Bates said of Sanford’s promotion, “That’s a pretty big task to achieve in 13 years, but with Scott’s experience and training he’s had, he’s going to be an asset to the night shift that he’s going to be over.”
  • Patrolman Adam Walker was promoted to sergeant
    • Walker has worked in patrol for 12 years, and has served as a member and instructor for the tactical team, as well as a department field training officer. He has also worked mid-shift, and is a member of the CPD Honor Guard.
    • Bates called Walker “one of the most physically fit guys in the department” and said, “He’s being assigned to night shift, and he’ll definitely be an asset to them, as well,” adding later, “He always goes, whatever he does, 110%.”


The council also took a moment to congratulate CPD Chief Kenny Culpepper for his recent reception of the Emma Marie Eddleman Citizenship Award from the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce.

Culpepper said of the honor, “It’s not about me; it’s about all the people around me. Without the wonderful people that I work with, I wouldn’t be here today, and without my wonderful family, I wouldn’t be here today receiving this recognition. So, it’s you guys, you guys that did it.”

Council business

The council held a public hearing and first reading for Ordinance No. 2020-16 to adopt a new City of Cullman Zoning Ordinance. 

According to Jason Fondren, who developed the updated ordinance for the city, the new ordinance contains the following changes from earlier ordinances.

Changes to comply with other laws and court decisions 

  • Permit group homes by right in residential districts that allow multifamily
  • Treat modular homes the same as site-built homes
  • Treat churches and all other places of worship/assembly the same
  • Regulate housing by physical form and density, not form of ownership
  • Permit tattoo parlors permitted by right in B-3, rather than “conditional use”



  • Add regulations for telecommunications towers, consistent with what is allowed by FCC
  • Update Home Occupation standards to limit hours of visitation and delivery and noise level


Residential Districts

  • Allow “accessory dwellings” in some residential districts with size and compatibility requirements
  • Remove ability to develop high density housing in R-1 and R-2 through planned unit development
  • Limit size of institutional uses allowed in Residential Districts
  • Create allowance for keeping of bees and chickens
  • Establish regulations for Short Term Rentals (i.e. Airbnb)


Nonresidential Districts

  • Limit size of future retail and restaurants in B-1 Neighborhood District Permit more standard business uses (banks, offices, medical clinics, etc.) by right in business districts
  • Prevent concentration of pay day loan, check cashing and similar “alternative financial services”
  • Require institutions too large/intensive for Residential Districts to rezone into proposed Institutional District


Special Districts 

  • Increase minimum acreage for AG-1 to 5 acres but exempt existing lots
  • Add Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) District
  • Add Planned Unit Development (PUD) District, to replace PUD allowances in Residential Districts
  • New TND and PUD developments subject to minimum acreage, master plan and re-zoning approval from Planning Commission and City Council


Parking Requirements

  • Including more use-specific requirements; make allowances for shared, mixed-use parking
  • Add specific loading area requirements


Landscaping Requirements

  • Require buffers based on uses involved rather than zoning districts
  • Require screening of dumpsters, outdoor storage and work yards


Administrative Provisions

  • Enable Board of Adjustment to impose conditions on variances
  • Specify review criteria and enable Board of Adjustments to impose conditions on Special Exceptions
  • Strengthen Conditional Use criteria for Planning Commission


As the ordinance was receiving a first reading, the council took no action, and will take up the matter at its next meeting. The ordinance is available for review online at

The council also gave first readings to 

  • Ordinance No. 2020-11 to establish the previously proposed Arts District in Cullman, the boundaries of which would include portions of Fifth Avenue Southwest, Sixth Street Southwest, Fourth Street Southwest, Hickory Avenue Southwest, First Street Southwest and Third Avenue Southwest.
    • City Clerk Wesley Moore previously explained that the arts district “is more like a special events district. It’s a place where you can have festivals, community events- things that support local art and are family-friendly.”
    • Alcohol could be served at special events within the district, but the same rules would apply as with events held in locations like the Warehouse District during Oktoberfest. At all other times, regular city alcohol ordinances would apply.
  • Ordinance No. 2020-17 to approve the 2020 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.
  • Ordinance No. 2020-18 to amend Ordinance No. 2015-32 to clarify Section 6 related to recreational activities being only allowed in designated areas which must be approved by the police chief. This ordinance received a favorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Alcohol Review Committee.  
    • The change to the ordinance would read, “No manufacturing shall provide for the public any type of recreational facilities, including but not limited to darts, billiards, pool, shuffleboard, or any other type recreation activity, except in a designated recreation area approved by the police chief or other designated City of Cullman representative.”
  • Ordinance No. 2020-19 to adopt the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.


The council voted to amend the City’s position control to add two more dispatchers, and to authorize Cullman Fire Rescue to apply for a FEMA grant to purchase heart monitors.

The council passed resolutions to adopt the 2020 Municipal Water Pollution Prevention Resolution, and to appropriate funds to the Jesse Owens Runners Club for the AHSAA Cross Country State Championship Meet.

The council also approved a special event request from Hillary Collins of Victim Services of Cullman to hold a St. Patrick’s Day fundraising festival at Depot Park March 14, 2030 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to the application, the event will include music, children’s activities, information booths, vendors and food trucks.

The Cullman City Council will meet next March 16, 2020 at 7 p.m. in the city hall auditorium. The public is invited to attend.

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W.C. Mann