Apartment plans still going ahead

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 5, 2006

Amid neighbors’ concerns about a planned apartment complex, anorth Brookhaven landowner’s request to have a section of hisproperty rezoned for the development was unanimously denied byaldermen Thursday following a public hearing.

Last night’s hearing was for aldermen to hear Sidney “Butch”Beasley’s appeal of an earlier rezoning denial by the BrookhavenPlanning Commission. Residents who live near the property were alsoallowed to voice their objections.

Beasley was seeking to have a section of his 11.6 acres onIndustrial Park Road rezoned from C-1 commercial to R-3 residentialto help with a planned 96-apartment development there. The rest ofthe property was zoned R-3 in 1991 during a citywide zoning effort,said Public Works Director Steve Moreton.

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Beasley said the apartment developer, which he not identify, hadagreed to purchase the land, plus the additional section near therailroad tracks if it could be rezoned. He said rezoning actionwould not impact apartment plans.

“They’re going to build the apartments whether I rezone thatlittle piece or not,” Beasley said.

Despite Beasley’s and his representative Clayton Hodges’assurances that the apartments would be part of a nice, gatedcommunity, neighbors were unconvinced. Beasley said the plannedrent would be $500 to $700 a month and five-year background checksdone on prospective tenants.

“They will be interviewed and have to pay rent,” said Hodges,adding the apartments will not be government subsidized.

North Jackson Street resident Gene Buckles said the apartmentsmay start out nice. However, after a few months when the apartmentsare not full, he expected rent to come down and the apartments todeteriorate.

“These apartments will be just like the ones the mayor ofJackson is trying to shut down now after a period of time,” Bucklessaid.

Buckles and others expressed concerns about even more traffic onIndustrial Park Road, crime, elderly and retired citizens, andsafety for neighborhood children. Residents said they had workedhard to establish the peaceful neighborhood that is in placenow.

“We’re just trying to keep the integrity of our neighborhood,”said Debbie Keene, who lives on Center Street.

Brignall Road resident Kim Carr said neighbors did not object toBeasley’s selling the property. However, they preferred it be soldto those who would build homes on the land.

“We’d welcome that at any point in time,” Carr said.

Following the hearing, aldermen continued with their meetingthat was recessed from Tuesday. The rezoning matter came upquickly, with Alderman at large Les Bumgarner taking aim at otherland that is zoned for multi-family housing.

“I’d like to see us try to eliminate some of this other R-3,”Bumgarner said.

Moreton said other R-3 areas are filled and indicated it isabout gone.

“Good, that’s the way it ought to be,” Bumgarner said.

Addressing last night’s issue, Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwellvoiced concerns about legal action.

“Either way (we decide), you’re looking at a litigation matter,”Maxwell said.

With that, aldermen went into executive session for reasons ofpotential for prospective litigation. Following a brief closed-doordiscussion, the board voted unanimously to deny the rezoningrequest.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said the request was denied becauseBeasley failed to prove the property was zoned incorrectlyinitially and that the character of the neighborhood warranted achange. Fernald said Beasley would be notified and he could thenappeal the matter to circuit court.