HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Jones Valley could be headed toward greener pastures. However, some people who live in the area aren’t too keen on the idea of a 126 acre shopping center potentially opening on the current farmland.
The Huntsville City Planning Commission has already voted unanimously to rezone the 126 acres on the corner of Carl T. Jones and Ledge Drive. Thursday night, it got through the City Council.
The property is currently zoned for multi-family and small neighborhood retail use, but the City Council approved the property to be zoned as highway business C-4, allowing for a 400,000 square foot shopping center.
Developer Raymond Jones, Jr. compares the proposed center to the existing big-box shopping center across the street. The proposed plaza would house much smaller retail shops, with spaces ranging from 6,000 to 140,000 square feet.
“There was a lot of talk initially like, we don’t want to lose the cows, we don’t want to lose the cows and that sort of stuff in the neighborhood,” said Jones Valley resident James Linderholm. “It’s not our cows, it’s not our land, I don’t think that’s a valid issue.”
Linderholm voiced his concerns during Thursday’s public hearing. He’s worried the rezoning would take away a potential development that could be utilized elsewhere. “I don’t really know why we’re considering doing that in this area, we have blighted highway commercial up and down the Parkway and up on University,” said Linderholm.
According to the Planning Commission, the business are market-driven. Market studies tell them where they should want to develop and oftentimes, if they can’t have the exact location, then they won’t locate at all. “My concern is this seems to be going the wrong way because you are taking the pressure off,” Linderholm said to the Huntsville City Council. “They could be persuaded to those other place I think, and there’s a very good argument for that, and I don’t think there is a good argument for this.”
Council President Mark Russell and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle disagreed. They said the retailers don’t want to go anywhere other than Jones Valley. “They just won’t go to the Parkway, they just won’t go where we want them to go.”
“I believe that and that’s what you’re saying, Mayor?” Russell asked Battle. The Mayor shook his head yes. “No matter how hard we push some of them, they aren’t going to go to those areas,” said Russell.