Council approves zoning change

By Staff
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
A controversial 9-acre piece of property owned by a Hartselle city councilman was rezoned Tuesday night, escalating residents' fears of higher traffic and lower property values.
Hartselle's City Council voted 5-0 to rezone the land from residential to commercial. The property's owner, Councilman Alvin Abercrombie, abstained from the vote.
The 9-acre plot fronts Highway 31 and backs up to Peach Orchard Road. Peach Orchard Road residents opposed the rezoning, saying the road can't handle additional traffic and any commercial development at the site could lower property values.
However, Abercrombie's rezoning request leaves out a 33-foot wide stretch of property directly connected to Peach Orchard Road. That land will remain zoned for residential.
According to City Attorney Larry Madison, the city can't deny rezoning requests simply because of complaints from citizens. And, since the city's comprehensive plan calls for all land facing Highway 31 to be zoned commercial, the council's hands were tied.
"I can't remember ever turning down a request for commercial zoning on Highway 31," Madison said. "We'd be hard pressed to turn down such a request."
Though the zoning was approved, any changes to the property would have to be approved by the Planning Commission and its site plan process. Included in that process are drainage issues, traffic patterns, utilities and landscaping.
Councilman Tom Chappell, who's also a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said the site plan process would stop – at least for now – any public road connecting Peach Orchard and Highway 31.
"I can't foresee it (a public road) being approved in the future," Chappell said.

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