South Shades Crest Road rezoning
The Hoover City Council, in a unanimous 7-0 vote, denied a landowner request to rezone 26 acres just off South Shades Crest Road where a developer wanted to build a retail center that included a gasoline station and grocery store.
The vote came after a public hearing in which more than a half-dozen residents of neighborhoods in the Trace Crossings community spoke out against it, citing traffic and safety concerns.
It was a dramatic development after a consultant last week recommended the Hoover City Council approve a proposed rezoning of the 26-acre tract on South Shades Crest Road, provided he meet several stipulations including a study on the potential impact of traffic on the area.
Bob House had told the council during a work session that the project could bring a big retail box, a strip center of small shops and a gasoline station to vacant land near the Trace Crossings community. Landowner USS Real Estate wouldn’t reveal who the proposed developer was nor their plans, but rumors were rampant that a Walmart Neighborhood Market was one of the potential tenants.
USS Real Estate’s original request to rezone the property from industrial to commercial was approved on March 9 in a 7-0 vote by the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration by the City Council. During tonight’s board meeting, Justin Armstrong of USS told the council that rezoning to commercial was the best fit for the neighborhood.
But the council chambers were packed with residents who live near the proposed development and were vocal in their opposition. In the end, their voices swayed the council to turn down the request.
The 26 acres of land is south of Interstate 459 near South Shades Crest Road and across from Brock’s Gap Parkway.
Hoover City Councilman John Lyda, who serves on the city planning and zoning commission, made the initial request to deny the rezoning request. All six other members of the council joined him in the 7-0 vote against USS Real Estate’s proposal - Council President Jack Wright, and council members John Natter, Brian Skelton, John Greene, Gene Smith and John Rives.
“We heard a lot of concerns from the public about traffic and safety, and felt it was best to deny the rezoning request,” Lyda said.
H.T. Lanier, who lives in the Creekside subdivision of Trace Crossings, was pleased that the council listened to residents.
“We got what we wanted, so I’m pleased,” he said.
Wright said one issue that many residents brought up was that South Shades Crest Road is in need of repair, and that construction could further damage the road. He said that road is maintained by Jefferson County and he hopes the commission will consider fixing it to improve safety.
“Though we denied the rezoning, if the property owner comes back to us with a plan that is more feasible, we will consider it at a later date,” Wright said.
Armstrong, manager of commercial sales and development at USS Real Estate, said he is not sure what their next step will be.
“We have two options - to not sell the land or to hold onto it, and we prefer to sell it,” he said. “The current industrial zoning is not the best use for the land. If the city wants to buy the land, we’d love to hear from them.”
Lyda said he and several others council members have received emails from residents complaining about the potential adverse impact of traffic from the development. City officials told the council the developer has submitted a traffic study that indicates traffic flow will be heavier in the afternoons when retail shops are open, but shouldn’t affect morning traffic when the stores are closed.
Besides mandating a traffic study, House said city officials will restrict the developer’s proposed gas station to no more than six pumps and limit lighting so that it won’t have a negative impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
Armstrong said in an interview last month that rezoning the 26-acres of land to commercial use will help protect the community. Under the current zoning, the property is restricted for industrial use, primarily because there is a railroad nearby, he said.
Today due to major growth of homes and other development nearby, being rezoned for commercial use is a better fit, Armstrong said. The industrial zoning in place now means any property owner could use the land for auto repair shops, animal clinics or sanitary sewage plants that aren’t good for the community, he said.