Cullman City Council approves rezoning of south side apartments despite protest from area residents

Southside residents packed City Hall Monday night. (WC Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. —Cullman City Council on Monday night approved rezoning for the development of a five-acre apartment complex on Southeast 3rd Avenue near its intersection with King Edward Street, rezoning the property from R-1 ( low-density single-family homes on large lots) to R-4 (high-density, including apartment complexes), despite passionate challenges from residents of the Carroll Acres subdivision and surrounding neighborhoods. Owner Cliff Harris told council and attendees at the last meeting that his intention was to build apartments. After telling council and the public at the last meeting that he had no current plans to develop the property beyond the apartments on the five-acre plot, Harris reversed course at Monday’s meeting. , indicating the plans and showing a diagram of a planned future development of single family homes on the property adjacent to the apartments.

Harris pointed to a 2020 site plan showing a large number of apartments and bungalows, saying current plans call for a significantly smaller development with just three three-story apartment buildings housing 48 apartments. Including proposed future single-family homes, the long-term plan is still much reduced from that of 2020.

Southside residents prepared for the meeting in advance, communicating via social media to encourage attendance, comparing talking points for statements to be made during the public comment portion of the meeting and adding more than 260 names to a petition opposing the plan. At the meeting, residents accused the city of ad hoc zoning, a lack of traffic planning and school overcrowding, an inadequate response to existing sewer and drainage problems, and the “sin of greed”.

Residents who spoke said they would report issues such as the sewage problem to state and federal authorities and promised to remember the evening vote in the next election.

Harris and Todd Adkison spoke for developer GLB Cullman, which the Alabama secretary of state’s office says includes local businessmen Wyles Griffith and Donovan Lovell. Harris pointed out that Cullman’s population has grown 23.9% over the past 10 years and the Cullman Chamber of Commerce has forecast a need for 1,218 multi-family units in the area. He told the crowd that Cullman’s two largest property management companies and three largest apartment complexes currently had no vacancies.

Harris said the proposed apartments would rent for around $1,000 a month and concluded by saying the developers were following all city regulations.

Adkison said all of the developers are local and pointed to projects such as the rehabilitation of buildings on 1st Avenue and the Warehouse District, the Klein Building, The Grove at Fischer Farms and The Flats at Fischer Farms. He assured the crowd that the developers will work with the City to alleviate any issues that arise from the project, and said, “We are going to be good neighbours.

The Cullman City Council meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at Cullman City Hall. The public is invited to attend.

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