SUMMERDALE - Citizens of the Town of Summerdale approached the council over concerns of rezoning a property from an R2 to a B2, making the property zoned for commercial business. The rezoning was approved by the council during the Oct. council meeting, while town citizens attended to voice their concerns to both the council and the developer, Hamm Enterprises.
The property is located beside Shadyfield Estates and will rezone 500 feet of land from the Beach Express going east on County Road 32 so that Hamm Enterprises can build a mini storage facility. The new facility will be located 700 feet from one of the common areas and over 1,000 feet away from the nearest home. The plans also include two small billboards on the Beach Express.
Citizens who live in or near Shadyfield have many concerns over this new plan, including the rezoning for B2 opening the door for any sort of development that falls under that category, including RV Parks and auto sales, were the developer to decide against the mini storage facility. Another large question is about the increase of traffic a commercial business could cause along County Road 32, which many of the citizens who live in the area stated is already overwhelming.
“Before they can develop this property they have to come to the Town of Summerdale with a site plan proposal, which will address your ingress and egress, your turning lanes, and ensure that whatever they construct will meet the criteria that’s required from businesses from the building department,” said Mayor David Wilson. “We make these developers do some of the most stringent work to make these facilities so that we would not mind living right beside them either, as your leaders.”
Wilson stated that before any ingresses and egresses were put in, traffic engineers from the town, the county, and potentially the state would examine the plans to ensure traffic congestion would be kept to a minimum. No detailed plans could be shown to the citizens for potential placement locations for such entrances and exits, as Hamm Enterprises wished to see if the rezoning request would be approved before hiring an engineer to develop the plans.
“The engineers have to look at the designs to see if it’s a safe intersection that will not put a burden on the current traffic that’s there,” Wilson said. “If it’s a mini storage facility I can’t imagine that being a high-volume traffic business, and if they change the use of the business to something different the requirements change for the parking.”
Citizens brought up the issue of if the developers decided against the mini storage facility and instead decided to put a “less desirable” business in the location. Many citizens voiced a fear of decreased property value depending on the future business. Wilson said were the business to change from a mini storage facility, the plans would still be required to be brought before the council for approval and would need to meet all requirements.
“From my standpoint as a developer, we’re leaving that large 500-foot buffer and we have no plans for development in that area,” said Jeff Windham, President of Hamm Enterprises. “What can be more threatening to a neighborhood is if someone wants to come in and change the whole area to commercial, all the way up to the houses, but we’re not trying to do that. One reason for leaving a large buffer is there’s still room to do potential residential development there. Most people wouldn’t want their house to be right on the Beach Express, so it would be very difficult to build residential houses all the way up to the highway. The next best use from my standpoint is to zone the 500 feet to B2 where we can do a little something with it.”
Windham believes that it is very likely for a residential developer to show interest in building more houses in the remaining area of the property, and that a mini storage facility will not affect the property values in Shadyfield. Windham also stated there would be no campers, trailers, boats, or long-term parking within the mini storage facility property.
“We’re the fastest growing county in Alabama, growth is something that is inevitably going to happen with these corridors that have all the traffic,” Wilson said. “Property owners are going to look for that to develop their property, and we’re going to make sure to have several different boards that examine these proposals, developers have to hire engineers, and we take our town engineers to look over what their engineers produce to make sure that it’s compatible with our rules and regulations. We require certain standards for these plans to proceed.”
For more on the Town of Summerdale, check out their website at www.summerdaleal.com.