DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The Decatur City Council voted on Monday night against changing the zoning for a 53-acre plot of land, blocking a proposed apartment complex.
The land is off Moulton Heights Road, near Eighth Street. The 53 acres are wooded, surrounded by several neighborhoods.
The City Council held a public hearing for Ordinance 23-4555. The ordinance was in regard to a developer being interested in developing an affordable housing complex on the land, and therefore needing to change the zoning from single-family to multi-family.
People who live in those nearby neighborhoods packed Monday night’s City Council meeting. Many of them expressed their concerns about a zoning change.
A lot of residents shared their desire to keep the current zoning, which would allow for single-family homes to be built in the future. “I think there should be only single-family housing in this area,” said one woman who spoke during the public comment period.
Another resident shared how he had previously lived in subsidized housing, but through years of hard work, he was able to purchase his own single-family home. He said he had witnessed shootings and other violence in subsidized housing and is worried that over time the proposed complex would deteriorate and attract violence.
When speaking to the City Council he said “Y’all don’t want it [violence] in front of your door, so I’m asking y’all please don’t put it in front of mine,” he said.
The City Council voted unanimously, 5-0, to not rezone the land into an R-4, multi-family residential district. It will stay zoned for single-family homes.
The area where the land in question is located falls within Decatur City Council President Jacob Ladner’s district.
He told News 19 that while the proposed complex would be upscale, and “the nicest multi-family Decatur has seen in over 20 years,” he never planned to support it.
“Even before we heard from the community, I wasn’t going to support it, because I’m just not going to support subsidized [housing],” Ladner said.
He explained to News 19 that the developer was pitching a type of complex that was “the wrong product.”
“This is subsidized housing that we were talking about, tax credit housing,” he said. “Personally, I voted against it because I’m not going to vote for any subsidized housing,” Ladner said.
Ladner said he believes Decatur already offers lower rent than nearby cities, making them more affordable for people.
“In Decatur, we have very affordable rents in both single and multi-family, we’re really below market on both of those” he added.
Ladner said with the zoning change request not going through, it isn’t likely people will see any development on that land off of Moulton Heights Road anytime soon. He said the developer who had pitched this idea was the first that has shown interest in the property since he has been on the council.
When News 19 drove around the community on Tuesday afternoon, we spoke to several people off-camera. They told us they were elated that the rezoning effort failed.