South Cullman residents sound off about proposed rezoning, planned apartment complex

Signs at the proposed development site encouraged residents to come to Monday’s meeting. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman City Council on Monday evening got an earful about the proposed rezoning of property located on 3rd Avenue Southeast at the King Edward Street intersection from R-1 (low population density single family homes on large lots) to R-4 (high population density including apartment complexes), with a strong showing at the public hearing by south Cullman residents who live in the vicinity of the development. Residents, seeing that the land was already being cleared even prior to the hearing, posted signs and took to social media days ahead of the meeting to encourage turnout to oppose the rezoning and potential development of apartments at the site.

A line of residents waited to speak during the hearing, asking if traffic and water runoff surveys had been conducted, disputing the acreage—based on one surveyor’s claim that the property was below the minimum for rezoning and arguing that the area’s streets can hardly handle current traffic much less increased traffic from more residents. Residents on Elm Street near the site pointed to routing flooding of the creek, saying that water runoff will only get worse with the removal of trees and widespread paving around an apartment complex. They voiced suspicions about the lack of building plans and asked if the City had conducted a study of potential impact on local property values and taxes.

The few who spoke in favor of rezoning included property owner Cliff Harris, who told the audience that the property is 5.15 acres—over the minimum acreage—and that the developers will work with the City on traffic and runoff issues. He pointed to a study saying that Cullman is currently 4,500 housing units short of what is needed to sustain current growth and verified that he plans to build apartments on the site. He then assured the crowd that the complex will not be for government-subsidized housing. 

Questioned about plans for over 30 adjoining acres that also belong to him, Harris said that he had no current plans for any development, to which one audience member responded, “You did two years ago.”

In May 2020, the City of Cullman Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Cullman City Council rezone 40 acres—including the five acres under question at this week’s council meeting—east of Third Avenue Southeast/Old Hanceville Highway and fronting on that road at its intersection with King Edward Street from R-1 to R-4. The group proposing the development at that time included Harris, Todd Adkison, Brett Barker, Brady Barker, Wiles Griffith, Donovan Lovell, Michael Livengood and Kiah Brown. The proposed development, called Old Edward Place, included 56 three-story apartment buildings and 87 bungalows, with a pool, clubhouses and other amenities.

The council gave the proposal a first reading and took no further action. The proposed rezoning is scheduled for a vote at the next council meeting, on Monday, May 23, 2022.

The council voted to place a temporary moratorium on Planned Unit Developments in the city. PUD’s, as they are called, consist of single-family homes in planned communities with amenities like pools, playgrounds and parks managed with funding provided by dues paid to a homeowners’ association. Cullman currently has three such developments underway, which will not be affected by the moratorium. According to City Clerk Wes Moore, the current projects can proceed, but no new projects will be approved for at least a year while the City works “to complete a review of the present Planned Unit Development and to implement any required changes in the current legislation regarding Planned Unit Development.”

The council also:

  • Approved a resolution to apply for state and federal grants to help fund improvements at Cullman Regional Airport
  • Approved the appointments of the following city officials:
    • Jake Calloway – Superintendent, Wastewater Treatment Plant
    • Nathan Anderson – Director of Parks and Recreation
  • Declared Council Seat One (previously occupied by Andy Page) vacant ahead of the upcoming election

The council took time during the meeting to present a resolution of appreciation to Brenda Horn for her 25 years of service to the Cullman Economic Development Agency and the city’s Industrial Development Board.

The Cullman City Council meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at Cullman City Hall. The public is invited to attend.

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W.C. Mann