Council approves property rezoning in Druid Hills, following lengthy discussion on spot zoning in communities
PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Contact: Chiara Perry
Following a nearly two-hour discussion, the Birmingham City Council approved a rezoning item on August 7, allowing for a historic residential structure in Druid Hills to be used as a law office.
The three councilors who voted not to approve the ordinance spoke in support of what attorney Wayman Newtown was doing to improve the neighborhood. However, they had concerns about the long-term consequences that could possibly open the door for additional commercial rezoning in the neighborhood. There were also questions surrounding the future use of the property should Newton eventually decide to sell.
“I believe today your appeal to the council will change the way we look at zoning in Birmingham,” Council President Pro Tem Jay Roberson said. “If we had 1,000 attorney Newtons who wanted to come back to their community and invest like this, Birmingham would be a new place. A brother that looks like me, that wants to make a difference, it says a lot. I commend you. I don’t believe in spot zoning, but this has a different aura about it.”
Councilor Steven Hoyt, who chairs the Planning and Zoning Committee which voted to not recommend the item following the findings of the Planning, Engineering and Permits Department, said that spot zoning can lead to “zoning mayhem” as it has in his district.
“When you change zoning — and this is spot zoning — it has implications long beyond,” Hoyt said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with you as a person. I’d love to see you in the courtroom. For me, I don’t believe in spot zoning. As a result of spot zoning, we have mayhem in my district. In the middle of the neighborhood we have a service station. Property values have gone down. We have every iteration of zoning over there. I’m excited you want to be there and do something in your community, but I try not to be emotionally driven when it comes to zoning.”
The council approved the ordinance, which will change the zoning from R-3, Single Family District, to MU-L Mixed-Use Low, with a 5–3 vote.
This press release is a contribution from Cody Owens in the Office of Public Information for the Birmingham City Council. For media inquiries please contact Chiara Perry, Interim Director of Public Information at 205.383.8432.