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Jemison Planning recommends denial of rezoning

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Jemison Planning Commission voted to deny two rezoning requests during a well-attended meeting on Jan. 28.

The requests and the planning commission’s recommendation to deny will be considered by the Jemison City Council on Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. The Council can follow the recommendation to deny, or it can vote to approve the requests.

A request had been made to rezone 35 acres from residential to agriculture at 23488 U.S. Highway 31. The request was being made by Rita Price, on behalf of property owner Harrison Price, in order to place a manufactured home on the back portion of the property. (Although there are a few mobile homes on the property, these were grandfathered in when zoning was implemented within the city limits of Jemison. Rezoning to agriculture would allow one manufactured home per 20 acres, up to three. Since the existing homes were grandfathered in, these would not could toward the limit.)

According to Dennis, mobile homes are only permitted as secondary buildings on a property and not as the main structure in agriculture.

Rita Price said she had moved to the property to take care of her parents, who are in their 80s and are dealing with health issues.

“I sold my house to come and am living with my parents,” Rita Price said. “… They do great one day and the next they don’t, so my wish is that I could stay with my parents for as long as they live.”

She said she wants to be on the property but not in the house, so they can have independence, but she is close enough to help her father up from a fall in the middle of the night if needed.

She wants to bring in a brand-new double wide on to the property for her to live in.

Building inspector John Dennis said he had received 12 letters in opposition to the rezoning. Several community members present voiced concerns that the property owners actually were planning on putting a trailer park on the property. Planning Commission Chairman Rex Bittle said this was not the request being made. Agriculture zoning prohibits trailer parks.

Some property owners said they should have received a letter of notification about the rezoning request but had not. Rita Price and Dennis said the list of who should have received a letter came from the Chilton County Courthouse. Notifications are required to be sent to property owners within 500 feet of the property for which the request is being made.

Community members also expressed concern that their property values would decrease.

A request made to rezone eight acres at 195 Robinson St. from residential single family to mixed planned unit zone also received opposition. The request was made by Gateway Development for property it is looking to purchase from Clyde and Sara Northcutt. The company wants to develop affordable housing for individuals 55 and older on the property. The units would be one level, multi-unit buildings, such as duplexes, and would be handicap accessible.

(Some community members present had received a notice of the rezoning with the wrong property owner listed.)

Community members expressed concern that the development would negatively impact property values. One property owner with nearby commercial property stated the property would be better used as commercial property, and the project would “downgrade our town.” Others in opposition to the rezoning were concerned about an increase in crime in the area if the housing was for those receiving government assistance, increased traffic and danger to neighboring children.

“You figure you have that eight acres that is going to be cleared and developed,” Clyde Northcutt said. “That is people coming. That’s tax dollars … You get people that draws more money.”

He said the proposed housing development could contribute to seeing the types of large businesses residents what to see come to town.

“We thought it would be an asset to the city to draw other businesses,” Clyde said.

Dennis said the city had received 12 letters of opposition to the rezoning.

Questions were raised about how many units could be built on the property.

Dennis said this zoning would require 10 percent of the parcel to be undeveloped land.

The Jemison Planning Commission meets on an as needed basis.