WARRIOR, Ala. (WIAT) — The community packed city hall Tuesday night to let the plan commission know they do not want a horse farm to replace the old North Jefferson School in Warrior.
After hearing from over a dozen residents, the plan commission voted unanimously against recommending to council a project involving a family home, barn and horses moving onto the property along Poplar Street.
According to Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin, the school has sat vacant for over two decades. Originally, the district had tried selling it zoned as residential property but it was not getting any bids.
Potential buyer Louis Pablo, and his realtor, Yani Isbell went before the plan commission Tuesday to see if the property could get zoned as agricultural.
“It’s got sentimental value and I want to see the neighborhood stay as it is – quiet, peaceful and fresh. Not with the animals coming in,” said Sammy Shelby who grew up down the street from the school and is a deacon at First Missionary Baptist Church.
Shelby, along with dozens of others, made it clear Tuesday night that they do not want to see the family move in with a horse farm. They fear other animals coming to the land, breeding and the potential smells that could arise.
“Don’t no body want to be sitting in the kitchen cooking and have odor coming through their living room or dining room,” Shelby said. “It’s a nice quiet community and we want to keep it clean.”
His concerns were echoed in a packed council chamber.
One community member said, “It’s detrimental to my health, and who would oversee the sanitation of the horse manure?”
After much back and forth between Pablo, Isbell and the community, the commission ultimately formed a uniform decision that a horse farm is not what the community would like to see come to the property.
“There are simply too many unknowns to me,” City Councilman Chuck Mosley said. “I don’t believe we can go under the assumption that nobody would purchase the property if it’s zoned residential.”
Community members said they would like to see the plot of land turned into a recreation center, a museum to the school, or more housing.
“Let’s get passionate so we can find a way to come up with a way to buy the property,” Planning and Zoning Chair Brooks Baker said.
His comment received applause around the room.
Although the commission will not be giving a recommendation for the family farm, city council gets a final say at its Nov. 1 meeting. Brooks is hopeful that this is only the beginning of the community working together to find a way to use the land to serve the community.
Pablo and his realtor did not wish to comment on the project after the meeting.