Tensions rise in Homewood downtown district zoning meeting

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HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — A planning and development committee meeting in Homewood Monday night became contentious as residents began airing their frustrations about the committee considering proposed changes to the downtown district zoning.

One of the goals in Homewood’s downtown district zoning plan is to simplify it’s zoning from 13 categories to three. However, the biggest concern during Monday’s meeting was parking, a discussion that left both residents and council members raising their voices to get their points across.

In the downtown district zoning plan, all buildings would be required to provide parking based on the building’s use and size– residents say the minimum parking requirements are far too low.

“What part of parking do you people not understand,” one resident said. “We need to park.”

The council has been working to secure lots off central avenue to create offsite parking, 64 parking spots are under construction off 18th Street, a parking enforcement officer has been hired, and parking management systems are being considered.

“We’re looking at paid parking, which we have looked at in the past, but we think the time has come to revisit that,” Homewood Councilor Jennifer Andress said.

Downtown business owners and residents alike were concerned this new plan would rid the city of its charm.

“All of those charming, the bike shop that has the old facade of the theatre, each one is unique and each one is beautiful,” one resident said. “That’s why I’d like to see this taken further in discussion.”

“We hear everyone loud and clear,” Andress said. “We love 18th street just live everyone else does and we want to keep the charm and we love Homewood just live everyone else does.”

The meeting ended with high tensions as residents continued to speak as councilors moved on to the next items on the agenda.

The committee sent the downtown district zoning to the council without recommendation. A public input meeting will be held next Monday at Homewood City Hall.


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