A new shopping center is coming to Wall Triana Highway and Browns Ferry Road after the City Council rezoned about 22 acres of empty fields.
The Madison City Council on Monday rezoned about 22 acres on the northeast corner of Wall Triana Highway and Browns Ferry Road. The rezoning will allow for a new shopping center.
That didn’t sit well with more than two dozen residents from the surrounding neighborhoods who said convenient shopping is not an acceptable trade-off for the peacefulness they will lose with increased traffic.
“Shopping’s not everyone’s quality of life,” said Lois Brown, a Madison Trace resident, who said she will lose her quiet evenings sitting outside once a shopping center opens. “Please, please help us keep that quality of life. That’s why we moved from Huntsville to Madison. Please don’t make us move to Harvest or Monrovia to get back that quality of life.”
Eleven residents pleaded with the council to reject The Sembler Company’s request to rezone the property from R-2 medium density residential to B-2 community commercial district. This will allow grocery stores and small retail businesses to locate a few blocks west of Kroger on Hughes Road.
Shopping’s not everyone’s quality of life.” – Lois Brown, Madison Trace resident
Josh Beyer, vice president of development for Sembler, said he couldn’t divulge which particular stores they seek for the shopping center, but he said neighborhood service shopping centers typically have a grocery store and smaller retail outlets, such as the Publix on County Line Road.
“This would be a lot smaller,” he said, compared to the Publix on County Line Road. He added it would not include a big box home improvement type store.
The residents opposed to the rezoning said the property has been zoned residential for 20 years and some specifically made sure it wasn’t going to be commercial before they bought their houses. They told the council it should stick with what’s on the books. Some also argued that a new shopping center won’t really add much because it will take away business from existing stores, ultimately creating more empty storefronts.
Toby Stauch said there are enough empty storefronts in Madison already to accommodate retail growth.
Before the vote, which passed 6-1, with Councilman Tim Holcombe the lone dissenter, Council President Tommy Overcash said some residents behind where Publix had the same concerns but their fears were not realized.
Councilman Mike Potter said he researched the 11 homes within two blocks of Publix that sold since it opened, which showed two decreased in value by 1 percent, four increased 10 to 15 percent and five increased from 20 and 45 percent.
“Did Publix cause that, I can’t say, but you can say a development like Publix did not decrease it.”
Councilman Gerald Clark, who represents the area where the new shopping center will be, said growing up on a farm where they went grocery shopping once a week, he learned the value of stores being within walking distance.
“You don’t know what convenience is until you don’t have it,” he said.
Clark said he’s optimistic the city can find money to eventually four-lane Wall Triana all the way to U.S. 72, but it will take lots of money, which the new shopping center can help provide. He reminded them his main campaign platform was to increase the city’s tax base.
Former Councilman Tim Cowles, who once represented the area in question, said he favored the proposal for several reasons: one, if residential had been the best use, the property would not have remained vacant for 20 years; two, development will bring traffic improvements to the intersection; and three, the property owner ought to be able to determine its best use.
“I for one would like to see additional services there,” he said.
Mayor Troy Trulock said after the meeting that he didn’t feel the residents who spoke against the rezoning represented the sentiment of most of the 23,000 residents who live within two miles of the shopping center site or more residents would have attended.
There were 32 people there to here to speak for or against the rezoning, and 11 spoke against and two spoke were for it, Trulock said.
Councilman Steve Smith encouraged the residents to stay involved in the process because the development still has several steps through City Hall before it can begin construction.
“So don’t feel like you have lost your voice,” he said.
via Despite residents’ fears, Madison City Council OKs rezoning for new midtown shopping center | AL.com.