Council declines apartment zoning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Several dozen Calera residents celebrated Monday after the city council declined to approve a rezoning request that would have allowed apartments on County Road 12.

Bobby Bynum had requested the rezoning of the nine-acre parcel from A-1 agricultural to R-4 multi-family residential so he could construct 100-plus apartments on Bird Song Drive. However, no councilmember made a motion regarding his request.

Calera Mayor George Roy asked three times if council wished to make a motion.

&uot;The ordinance fails for lack of a motion,&uot; Roy then told the packed courtroom, which broke out into loud applause.

Marty Smith, who led the local charge against the request, yelled, &uot;That’s what Jesus does for you!&uot;

At least 20 residents went up front to thank Roy and the council.

The council’s actions came after several residents spoke against the planned development.

Calera resident Jim Whittle, who had only learned of Bynum’s request a week earlier, was the first to address the council.

&uot;It will decrease the values of our homes,&uot; he said. &uot;After about a year or two, you won’t have a good group in the apartments, either.&uot;

Smith told council 276 people signed a petition opposing the apartments, citing traffic and drainage concerns among potential problems.

&uot;Adding another 104 units of apartments will make it worse,&uot; Smith said.

&uot;The county has no plans to do anything with 12. It’s almost going to take an act of Congress to have them come out and do anything on this road.&uot;

He added most of those who moved to the area wanted to &uot;get away from apartment life.&uot;

Some residents also argued the apartments would harm the area’s rural charm.

&uot;This is not the spot for it,&uot; neighboring resident Tina Cumberland said. &uot;We paid our taxes. We paid our dues. Now back us up.&uot;

Other residents also asked whether the city had enough police presence. Roy tried to assure residents that would not be a problem.

&uot;Our police force is adequate. It will be added to if needed,&uot; Roy said.

Councilmember Ernest Montgomery said he supported the proposal when it went before the planning and zoning board but had a change in heart upon hearing the residents.

&uot;Since that time I’ve learned some things that really concerned me,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m beginning to see why it may not be a good idea.&uot;

Bynum only spoke briefly about his proposal, saying he likely would have sold the development to an associate upon completion.

&uot;I feel like Calera needs a nice set of apartments,&uot; he said.