Council takes no action on zoning request

The lack of action by the Russellville City Council Monday night seemed to kill plans for the construction of a housing complex on North Jackson Avenue.

Councilman Lanny Hubbard’s motion to re-zone property adjacent to Good Shepherd Catholic Church to a residential listing, rather than the manufactured housing distinction it currently has, failed to gain a second.

Jim Marion, who owns the property next to the church, asked the council to re-zone the property a couple of months after the planning and zoning commission failed to do so.

The Alabama Non-Profit Housing Association has repeatedly expressed interest in buying the property from Marion to build 10 duplex homes. The site would contain 10 structures with a total of 20 dwellings.

Marion said he believes that local residents who appealed to the zoning commission to deny the earlier request were not properly informed about the plans for the land.

Hubbard agreed, saying that residents in that district misinterpreted what was planned for the site.

“People were saying that there were going to be high rises and all kinds of things there,” he said.

“These would be very nice homes and it would be a good thing to have there.”

Timothy Aho, an architect who works with Alabama Non-Profit Housing on such projects, said the duplexes would be built with wood frames, bricked with sloped roofs and would have a paved drive with curbing through the neighborhood.

“If it were to be re-zoned it would be the same as all of the surrounding properties and would be an upgrade to what is allowed to be on the property now,” Aho said.

“These are very nice homes with detailed craftsmanship. We are not looking to build apartment complexes or high rises.”

Aho said the project would mean a $2.4 million economic impact to the city. He said the construction would be bid by local contractors as well as the use of local sub-contractors.

The city gave the group a five year tax abatement on the property a year ago so funding could be approved the USDA.

After the council failed to act on Hubbard’s motion, Marion asked for an explanation.

“I have struggled with why the city wouldn’t want this as opposed to what’s already there,” he said.

“It seems like a win-win for the city to me and I thought everyone was on board with it.”

Councilman William Nale and David Palmer both told Marion that the council appoints citizens to the zoning board and they need to take the board’s recommendation on the matter.

Marion and Aho both asked that the matter be brought before the zoning commission again, so local residents could see what the proposed community would be like.

“I just don’t understand,” Marion said.

“I think there was a great deal of misinformation and I think people would see that this is much better than what is there now.”

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