Cullman Planning Commission recommends controversial rezoning of Old Hanceville Hwy. property

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Proposed plan for new multiple-unit apartment complex and bungalows on 40 acres east of Third Avenue Southeast/Old Hanceville Highway and fronting on that road at its intersection with King Edward Street (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala – The City of Cullman Planning Commission on Monday evening voted to recommend that the Cullman City Council rezone 40 acres east of Third Avenue Southeast/Old Hanceville Highway and fronting on that road at its intersection with King Edward Street from R-1 (low-density housing) to R-4 (high-density/apartments). The site was previously proposed as the new location for Desperation Church.

Todd Adkison, representing Brett Barker, Brady Barker, Wiles Griffith, Donovan Lovell, Michael Livengood, Kiah Brown and Cliff Harris, told the commission during the public hearing, “We’re trying to develop a large-scale, highly amenitized rental development with two components . . . three story walkups- high-quality apartments, two pools, two clubhouses, dog parks, walking trails- and another component that consists of craftsman-style bungalows. We purposefully arranged the development where the bungalows meet the adjoining neighborhood and the three-story walkups stand alone and not back door to the other neighborhoods.

“We’re trying to meet the needs of Cullman. Cullman’s demographics and Cullman’s needs mimic those of the South and the country at large. We have young families that need to transition into long-term housing, that want a place for a year or two till they move, and they want high-quality and good amenities. We have young people, roommates, college kids that need housing. And these, again, these are the highest quality apartments, the highest quality bungalows. We have the transitional families: the single mother, single father with children; we can provide a high-quality, safe environment where they have playgrounds and the dog parks and things the children want… and then retired couples who want to downsize and want a nice quality apartment to live in, where they can feel safe, where they can enjoy the environment.”

When Adkison was done, commission president Mike Voss opened the floor to anyone who opposed the plan, and local residents from homes around the proposed development lined up to speak, including those from the Carroll Acres subdivision. Mark Whitley expressed concern about lowered property values in the area. Joy Shelton asked where children from the complex would go to school and echoed Whitley’s complaint about property values. Sabrina Hale claimed that crime will go up in the area as the complex ages. Harry Carden asked who will run the complex after the developers are gone. City Clerk Wes Moore presented letters from nine other Carroll Acres residents who oppose the plan, pointing to shared concerns about a high-density zone being surrounded by low-density zones, property values, crime and increased traffic on Old Hanceville Highway.

When the time came for the commission to consider and vote on the matter, Voss pointed out existing City concerns including:

  • the lack of existing R-4 zoning adjoining the site
  • the lack of an existing development plan from the developers
  • the environmental impact of a high-density development at that location: Voss quoted an engineering report saying, “The Ryan Creek drainage basin is already inundated with downstream developments.”

 

Based on his reading of the new city zoning ordinance, Voss pointed out the historical limitation of R-4 zones to areas near business zones, while this development would be surrounded by residential zones. When a question of whether the site’s zoning could be differentiated between the apartments and bungalows, City Attorney Roy Williams noted that the commission could only consider the request presented by the developers, and could not consider its own modified versions of the plan.

Voss emphasized that the commission could only make a recommendation, and that the final decision on zoning would have to be made by the Cullman City Council, saying, “Our job is not to make the decision of whether it’s rezoned, but to tell them whether it’s consistent with the Master Plan. And, as I pointed out, I think it’s a kind of a stretch to say that it is, given what we’ve done in the past and the most recent rewrite (of the zoning ordinance) which shows a certain intent of using the special districts and so forth.”

In the end, despite Voss’ cautions, the commission voted to recommend that the city council rezone the site to R-4. The recommendation will be sent to the council for consideration at its upcoming meeting Monday, May 11.

Other commission business

The commission approved short form subdivisions:

  • to create a public right of way in the Ellsworth Subdivision 
  • to divide one lot into two lots at 1809 3rd St. NW 
  • to create two lots on Alabama Highway 157 Northwest 
  • to create three lots at Welti Road Southeast and 14th Street Southeast

 

The commission denied a request to divide one lot into two in the Wynn Haven Subdivision, with Voss pointing out that the request appeared to be an effort to circumvent the requirements of a major subdivision by requesting a series of short form subdivisions. The body also approved a preliminary subdivision request for the Highpoint Subdivision on County Road 490.

The commission voted to recommend rezoning of Shadowbrook Subdivision on East Hanceville Road Southeast from AG-1 (agricultural) to R-2 (medium-density residential), while recommending the denial of a request to rezone property in Wynn Haven Subdivision from R-1 to R-3.

The commission approved a proposed site plan for a Dollar Tree on St. Joseph Drive Northwest, and a conditional use request for a modular building at 1803 Beech Ave. SE to be used by Cullman Christian School.

The commission also voted to recommend annexations requested at:

  • 130 County Road 1401 
  • Freeman Road (78 acres)
  • 324 County Road 1322 

 

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

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The City of Cullman Planning Commission on Monday night voted to recommend the rezoning of 40 acres of property (shaded in dark green on the map) off of Third Avenue Southeast (Old Hanceville Highway) from R-1 low-density residential to R-4 high-density residential to allow the construction of a multi-unit apartment complex with three-story buildings and bungalows. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)
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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com