Pell City Council to again consider rezoning request
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – The council will consider next week whether to approve a rezoning request that many Oak Ridge community residents have adamantly opposed in the past.

A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at City Hall to hear a request to rezone a 1.1-acre lot adjacent to Iola Roberts Elementary School.

Jeff Jones with Riverbank Properties, LLC, will request that the council approve his rezoning request from R-1, low density residential district, to B-1, neighborhood business district.

Jones’ request was approved by the Pell City Planning and Zoning Board May 23 by a 6-1 vote.

Only one year ago, Jones requested that the property be rezoned B-2, but his requested was rejected by both the planning and zoning board and the city council.

“I want to thank you for dealing with something that’s not easy,” Jones told the council at their Thursday work session.

He told the council that one neighbor in the Oak Ridge community was “not going to fight this anymore.”

However, Oak Ridge residents have voiced opposition to the rezoning of the property for commercial use after owners requested a zoning change twice before, and some Oak Ridge residents are expected to attend Monday night’s public hearing in opposition to the rezoning request.

Residents said covenants prevent the site, which once had a home on the property, from being used for anything but residential purposes, although the property was once used as an overflow area for the former Miller Sutherlin Auto Mall. The car dealership closed its doors in 2009.

Jones purchased the property, tore down the house and cleared the property.

He told the council last year that the property is identified in the city’s Comprehensive Growth Plan, which was adopted Oct. 9, 2001, as commercial property.

In 2012, the planning and zoning board rejected Jones request to rezone the property as a general business district, and the council also rejected the request after it was met with opposition from Oak Ridge community residents.

This was not the only request rejected by the council for the commercial rezoning of the property.

In 2010, the former owner of the property requested that the property be rezoned B-2 for a new national chain automobile parts store. The planning and zoning board approved the request, but the request died when it reached the council.

Oak Ridge community residents have expressed safety concerns with increase traffic near Iola Roberts Elementary School and in their neighborhood. Residents have said they also worry that if the city rezones the property, other adjacent property owners will seek to rezone their property for commercial use, which they believe is detrimental to their neighborhood community.

In 2010, Councilwoman Dot Wood said the rezoning would amount to “spot zoning,” because all land connected to the property is zoned residential.

The property fronts U.S. 231, and Jones said an entrance to the property would be along that major highway.

“I don’t want to do anything to hurt anybody, but that’s progress,” Jones said Thursday, adding the area there has changed much since he was a boy. “I have the desire to do something nice.”

He said the property would not be used as a site for a new fast-food restaurant.

“I would think general retail,” Jones told the council.

“We’ll take it up Monday night,” Council President James McGowan said.

Contact David Atchison at

© 2013