PELL CITY—A public hearing is set next month for the rezoning request by owners of the former Avondale Mills plant property.
Pell City-Tifton Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of Thunder Enterprises of Chattanooga, has requested the city council approve the rezoning of the 28-acre former Avondale Mills plant property from M-1, manufacturing, to B-2, general business, and R-4, which would allow construction of townhouses.
“The current zoning is not working for us, and it’s not working for Pell City,” John Thornton, president of Thunder Enterprises, told the mayor and council during a recent council meeting. “No manufacturer is going to come here, and if they did, there would be noise and traffic.”
The city set the public hearing for the rezoning request at 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 13, during the city’s regularly scheduled council meeting.
In May, the city’s planning and zoning board rejected the company’s rezoning request, even though the city’s planning and zoning fulltime department staff recommended approval.
Last year, the city’s planning and zoning board approved the rezoning request for the former Avondale Mills property so Cahaba Valley Development Corporation of Birmingham could build an $11 million apartment complex, but the city council later rejected the rezoning proposal in a 4-2 vote.
Thornton said that development would have provided more than $250,000 to the city in impact fees alone.
Two weeks ago, Thornton told the mayor and council that Pell City Tifton Properties, LLC, received a lot of feedback and concerns at the planning and zoning board meeting and agreed that townhouses could be constructed on the property instead of apartments.
Thornton said once the proper zoning is in place, the city has the final say as to what type of single-family development goes on the property.
Thornton said the company wants part of the property zoned residential to provide a buffer between the proposed commercial zoning and the Mill Village community.
Thornton said there were no complaints or concerns about the B-2 rezoning request, but it was denied as well.
This is not the first time the city and the company have been at odds with each other.
In 2010, the company filed a lawsuit after the city condemned property the company owned. The property had a well which supplied about a quarter of the city’s water supply at the time.
The company had initially asked $1 million for the property, but city officials said the property was only worth $310,000.
The case was eventually settled, and the company was awarded $1.1 million for the one-acre well site.
Thornton has repeatedly asked city officials publicly if there was anything else officials would like to see developed on the former Avondale Mills plant property, but at the last two meetings with city officials, nobody offered any alternative zoning or usage ideas for the property, which borders U.S. 231, Comer Avenue, U.S. 78 and the Mill Village.
“Is there anything else you would like to see on the property?” Thornton asked the planning and zoning board and the city council.
He also asked the council if they would approve the R-4 zoning for about 20 acres of the property and the B-2 zoning for the remaining eight acres.
Mayor Bill Hereford and council members told Thornton they could not say one way or the other without first hearing from the public at the scheduled public hearing.