Cullman City Council approves rezoning for southside apartments despite challenge by area residents

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Southside residents filled City Hall Monday evening. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman City Council on Monday evening approved rezoning for the development of a five-acre apartment complex on 3rd Avenue Southeast near its intersection with King Edward Street, rezoning the property from R-1 (low population density single family homes on large lots) to R-4 (high population density including apartment complexes), despite heated challenges from residents in the Carroll Acres subdivision and surrounding neighborhoods. Property owner Cliff Harris told the council and attendees at the last meeting that his intention was to build apartments. After telling the council and audience at the last meeting that he had no current plans to develop the property beyond apartments on the five-acre plot, Harris reversed course at Monday’s meeting, indicating plans and showing a diagram of an intended future development of single family homes on property adjacent to the apartments.

Harris pointed to a 2020 site plan showing a large number of apartments and bungalows, saying that current plans call for a substantially smaller development with only three three-story apartment buildings housing 48 apartments. Including the proposed future single-family homes, the long-term plan is still scaled well back from that in 2020.

Southside residents prepared in advance for the meeting, communicating via social media to encourage attendance, compare talking points for statements to be made during the public comment portion of the meeting, and add over 260 names to a petition opposing the plan. At the meeting, residents accused the City of spot-zoning, lack of planning for traffic and school overcrowding, inadequate response to already-existing sewage and drainage problems, and the “sin of greed.”

Residents who spoke said they would report issues like the sewage problem to state and federal authorities and promised to remember the evening’s vote at the next election.

Harris and Todd Adkison spoke for developer GLB Cullman, which according to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office includes local businessmen Wyles Griffith and Donovan Lovell. Harris pointed out that Cullman’s population increased by 23.9% in the last 10 years, and that the Cullman Chamber of Commerce projected a need for 1,218 multi-family housing units in the area. He told the crowd that Cullman’s two largest property management companies and three largest apartment complexes all currently have no vacancies.

Harris stated that the proposed apartments will rent for around $1,000 per month and closed by saying that the developers were following all city regulations.

Adkison said that all the developers are local and pointed to projects including the rehabilitation of buildings on 1st Avenue and the Warehouse District, the Klein Building, The Grove at Fischer Farms and The Flats at Fischer Farms. He assured the crowd that the developers will work with the City to alleviate and problems that arise from the project, and said, “We’re going to be great neighbors.”

The Cullman City Council meets 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

craig@cullmantribune.com