By Harold Bearden
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 | 9:02 AM
Tuesday night, a packed room at the Neighborhood Facilities Building overflowed into the hallway with a group of Haleyville residents who came to protest a proposed zoning change at the Haleyville Planning Commission meeting. The Commission was to consider whether to make a recommendation to the City Council to change the zoning on the Dobbs property located on Newburg Road across from the Quick Shop. The change would be from the present R1, single dwelling homes, to R3, multi-family housing. The Commission heard a proposal from Denis Blackburne, Senior Vice President of Woda, a real estate development company from Savannah, GA, to build an apartment complex on the property if if could be rezoned R3.
Before Blackburne could complete his presentation, it became apparent from comments from the audience, this was not a welcomed proposal. The residents and property owners from the surrounding neighborhood expressed their dissatisfaction with the concept of putting "rent controlled" multi-family housing on land surrounded by their single family homes.
The proposed development would have cost $5.8 to $6 million and be financed with tax credits sold to large companies and banks who could use the credits.
Plans called for 100 units, with 44 units to be built initially. Rent for a 1 bedroom unit would be $420-425/mo with an income cap of $42k for a family of four for the larger units.
After hearing from the developer and the public, the Commission voted unanimously to not recommend to the council to change the zoning classification. The final decision belongs to the City Council, which will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Neighborhood Facilities Building. According to Mayor Sunseri, "the council would be crazy to vote against the wishes of the public."
Blackburne was invited by several people to please come back at a later date with building plans on some other piece of property in Haleyville.