Alabaster approves rezoning despite Weatherly concerns

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Residents of Alabaster’s Weatherly Subdivision did not find much satisfaction Monday night concerning the future of a 33-acre section of land in their backyards eyed for business development.

Despite the concern of Weatherly residents, the Alabaster City Council approved a rezoning request Monday night for 127 acres along Interstate 65 from agriculture to B-3 (community business).

The bone of contention, however, was not the entire 127 acres requested by Shelby Land Partners. Instead Weatherly residents and newly elected Weatherly area Councilmember Jerry Workman were particularly concerned about the impact of a 33.96 acre section of that property that backs up to their subdivision.

And one of the biggest questions left open despite a lengthy public hearing on the matter was what will the 33 plus acres be used for?

The rezoning request was approved on a 6-1 vote following a motion by Councilmember Jim McClain and a second by Councilmember Adam Moseley.

Workman, who asked why the 33 acre section in question could not be carved out of the rezoning request until the partners knew how it would be used, cast the lone &uot;no&uot; vote.

Weatherly residents expressed concerns that a buffer is needed between their subdivision and businesses, that children playing in their subdivision should not be exposed to transients attracted to a business area, decreasing property values and concerns over what businesses will occupy the space.

To help ease some of the residents’ fears, Councilmember Tommy Ryals read a list of self-imposed restrictions Shelby Land Partners agreed to for the 33.96 acre section. He also included those restrictions in the city’s action to grant the rezoning request.

The restrictions include no live entertainment, convenience store, off-premise sale of beer and wine, automobile dealership, used car lot, minor automobile repair, bowling alley, car wash, fraternal orders and lodges wherein alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed, funeral home, gasoline service station, home improvement cente3rs and retail lumber yards, manufactured home sales and service, outdoor, commercial recreational uses such as miniature golf, par 3 golf, golf driving range, batting cages, go-cart tracks, paint ball courses and similar uses, pawn shop, skating rink, taxidermy, theater and drive-in theater, vehicle towing service, with no vehicle storage on premises or video arcade.

According to Ryals, Shelby Land Partners owned 400 acres in the area of 1-65, Exit 238 of which 100 acres were sold to Colonial Properties Trust for shopping center development.

He reported that at present the partnership is in the process of selling 42.2 acres to Westwood Baptist Church for a new church building.

And he said the partners wanted the 127 acres in question rezoned for community businesses, the same as the 1-65, Exit 238 shopping center.

B. Sanders, representing Shelby Land Partners said the partnership wants to continue on with its pledge to bring positive commercial development to the city of Alabaster. And while not included in the original list of self-imposed restrictions, Sanders added a &uot;no live entertainment&uot; provision.

He said that use was simply over looked. But he said such a business would not be successful without alcohol sales.

Todd Goode of 141 Glen Abbey Way said it is a &uot;general consensus&uot; that residents of the area welcome a move by Westwood Baptist to build a church in the area.

In a separate prior action, the council unanimously approved a rezoning request by Westwood Baptist Church for 42.2 acres from agricultural to institutional to build a new church.

But Goode questioned business development within 30 feet of someone’s backyard… intrusion of business into a residential neighborhood.

He noted that some of the things not excluded in a B-3 zone are hotels and motels.

He expressed concern for the safety of children.

Another resident of Weatherly Club Drive pointed out that a master plan showed the acreage in question for rezoning as a park. He asked if a buffer zone could be extended and if the partners would consider a B-3 zone with B-1 (offices) restrictions?

While Sanders responded that

an effort was made toward B-1 restrictions on the property in question, he said the partners could not agree to a B-1 zoning.

He pointed out, however, that the area in question is self-contained without access into Weatherly.

As to the park shown own what was called a master plan, Sanders said parks were never discussed. He said the drawing referred to just showed some land uses. He said the partners still don’t know what the use for the property will be.

When Workman asked Sanders why not wait on a rezoning request until a specific use for the property could be brought before the council, the crowd of concerned residents applauded loudly.

When Sanders responded that anything would come before the council. Workman replied that once the property is zoned B-3 the partners could bring anything (allowed in such a zone) before the council. He told Sanders, &uot;You’re creating an undue burden on property owners.&uot; He said the action would also have an &uot;impact on property values.&uot;

He asked, &uot;Where does it burden you&uot; to carve out 33 acres and come back at a later date?

Sanders pointed out that such an action would hinder the partners’ ability to market the land. He also said if the land is already rezoned, it is much easier to market.

When Ryals asked Sanders if trees could be left, Sanders responded that there might be a better buffer.

He also pointed out that some of the land is dedicated wet lands.

A Brent Way resident asked, &uot;What is fair and what is right.&uot; He said the proposition before the council &uot;almost pits us against the church (Westwood) with theirs (purchase of property from Shelby Land Partners) being contingent on B-3 (rezoning request for the 127 acres).

Ryals also alluded to that aspect of the situation when he said a lot of time had been put into this matter and that it would be a &uot;no brainer except this has direct affect on another entity.&uot;

He said it was best to play the hand that has been dealt with the restrictions imposed, to make sure there is a buffer in place. He also expressed the hope Shelby Land Partners will work with the council when a business comes up.

Ryals said, &uot;I don’t see how we cannot grant this.&uot;

Councilmember McClain pointed out that a 30-foot buffer zone is required

After the meeting, Sanders was asked if the sale of land to Westwood Baptist was contingent upon the 127 acres requested by Shelby Land Partners to be rezoned being granted?

Sanders said he did not believe that it was. He said the contract stated that the church would seek its rezoning the same time as Shelby Land Partners and would not oppose Shelby Land Partners B-3zoning request.