Neighborhood fights housing construction in Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Plans to develop a less than half-acre lot in a Huntsville neighborhood are at the center of a growing dispute.

The dispute began after a developer unveiled plans to construct two homes on the lot in the Kirkwood subdivision. A single-family home was knocked down to make way for the project, and neighbors are arguing that the project breaks the subdivision’s covenants. They say the agreements are designed to prevent exactly that type of construction in the neighborhood.

“I am very against something that is splitting traditional large lots into something much smaller,” said homeowner Suzanne Kohler.

Over 100 homeowners have signed a petition to block the project. Meanwhile, the developers are arguing that similar projects have already been completed in the neighborhood.

“We feel like we are attempting to develop the lot in accordance with the way the covenants have been construed say in the last 50 years,” said co-developer Bob Presto.

The City of Huntsville released a statement Friday saying in part: “The city has the legal right to enforce subdivision regulations and zoning ordinances. Neighborhoods also have a right to create their own covenants and restrictions; however, the city has no legal right to enforce these measures and cannot get involved in private property disputes.”

The City said those types of disputes would have to be settled in court, which is what neighbors say they plan to do. The Huntsville Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the issue on July 14th.

Huntsville City Councilman Bill Kling who serves district four said he’s signed the and stands with the neighborhood. He stated they urge the Planning Commission to deny the variance.

“The developer bought one lot with one house on it,” said Kling in a statement to News 19. “There are approximately 600 houses in this neighborhood from Drake Ave. to Homewood drive. Each of them has only one house per lot. The developer knew what he was getting. He comes in and wants to change the rules.”

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