Decatur City Council Approves Controversial Rezoning Along Sixth Avenue

 

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – A redevelopment battle in Decatur came to a close Monday night.

In a split decision, the Decatur City Council approved the rezoning of commercial property along Sixth Ave.

The Decatur Planning Commission already unanimously approved this change in March.

The decision affects from 11th St. north to 5th St. and from Sixth Ave. to the west side of Seventh Ave.

Decatur residents of Seventh Ave. and the surrounding areas made one final plea to the city council Monday night to vote down the proposed change.

They are concerned about what the expanded commercial zoning will do to their property values, as well as how the added traffic will impact the area.

Councilman Roger Anders’s district includes the affected area and he believes this move will allow the council to manage what happens in the neighborhood.

“We looked at ways that we could protect that neighborhood and this is the best way we could do it as opposed to having nothing in place,” said Anders.

He voted in favor of the change saying this would prevent the unknown effects of spot-zoning in the future.

Instead the planning committee, headed by Wally Terry, will require the commercial and residential areas be separated by a three-and-a-half-foot berm, a 20-foot buffer, and landscaping.

Hotels, pawn shops, title loan companies and various other types of businesses will not be allowed in the area.

John Nugent is one of the many concerned residents that opposed the change.

“What we’ve been trying to do is make sure our neighborhoods okay after all of this is over with,” said Nugent. “They have worked with us, but it’s when they set their mind to do something, they’re going to do it.”

He at least wanted the committee to consider building a brick wall to separate the commercial area from his neighborhood to offer more privacy. Both the council and the committee rejected the idea saying it would be susceptible to graffiti.

Anders did ask the committee to consider building a four-foot berm from the height of the parking lot, as opposed to the required height from Seventh Ave. He thinks the added height will help protect the residents from the glare of headlights.

Overall, city planners believe the area will be better developed and attract new businesses and consequently new revenue for the city.

“I think it could help transform the face of Sixth Avenue,” said Anders. “I think now it opens up for some larger commercial places to come in and I think it’s going to add to the neighborhood versus take away.”

However, Nugent does not plan to stick around to see the transformation.

“Yeah, I’ll be selling,” said Nugent.