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Citizen objects to zoning amendment

News Staff Writer

Atmore City Council, sitting one member short, gave unanimous approval during Monday’s (August 8) meeting to a zoning amendment that reclassifies a longtime business property that was previously zoned residential.
The amendment, to change the property at 300 South Presley Street (where Just 4 Kids clothing shop is situated) from R-2 (multi-family residential) to B-2 (commercial, mainly for small shops, offices, etc.) was passed despite concerns expressed by a resident of South Presley Street who was at the meeting to discuss another matter.
During a public hearing prior to the council vote, Codes Enforcement Officer Greg Vaughn explained that the building was first used as a business prior to the establishment of city zoning.
“This property has been there for a long time, we believe prior to zoning,” Vaughn said. “It’s in a residential area, but is adjacent to a business area, which is immediately across the street. It was set up as a business, and the owner is asking that it continue to be used as a business.
“Basically, this is a request to take piece of property into the B-2 district as adjacent to B-2. The city planning board has already heard the request and made a recommendation to rezone. You’re supposed to accept or deny that recommendation.”
Letty Digmon, a resident of South Presley, expressed concern that the amendment would allow other property owners to request a change of their residential property to business property.
“That sets a precedent,” she said. “Once that house is zoned for business…”
Staff interrupted at that point, telling Digmon that, “It’s just one house on that block. It can’t be anything but a business now; there’s nothing left in it, just wide-open spaces. Everything to the east and north of it is already business.”
After the local woman again expressed her concern that the amendment could spur a rash of requests for the same treatment, Staff pointed out that such properties would have to be adjacent to other B-2 properties, then declared the public hearing over.
The council then voted 4-0 to approve the amendment. (The mayor explained that District 5’s Chris Harrison was unable to attend due to “an unexpected problem.”)
Digmon, who was on the agenda later to talk about the unkempt state of the lot next to hers and promises by the city to remove trees and limbs that have been pushed into a pile on it, then asked the mayor and council to use their power to mitigate the problem.
“I talked to city hall, and they said they were going to do something about it,” she said. “Don’t wait so long. It’s a matter of justice. I want you to use your power and authority to do what you’re supposed to do.”
In other business Monday, the council:
*Approved a change, requiring Brown Precision to decrease the number of fulltime employees from 35 to 17, when being considered for grants from Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).
*Approved the use of Houston Avery Park for the annual Christmas in the Park event, during which bicycles and toys are given to local children.