By Lee Weyhrich
CLAY — Residents and members of the Clay City Council spoke out on two controversial ordinances Monday.
A rezoning case on Trussville-Clay Road is causing a stir. At the hearing, four Clay residents — Linda Hicks, David Hicks, Ron Self and Andy Driggers — spoke out against a rezoning that would permanently change a small parcel of land from agricultural to light industrial.
The owner of the land wishes to have it rezoned so he can use it for storage of masonry equipment and material. If approved, the city will require the owner to install a seven-foot fence and follow other guidelines laid out by the council limiting the land’s future use.
The primary complaint from residents is the property’s proximity to Clay Elementary School. Another major complaint, and one voiced by Councilman Ricky Baker, is that zoning this land light industrial would open the door to other properties becoming light industrial in the area, and also keep the land from being used for something more profitable.
“This light industrial is not going to be bringing us any money,” Baker said. “It’s not selling, it isn’t generating revenue for us. It’s just going to be bricks sitting there and that’s going to create an eyesore. That’s just my opinion.”
As an argument for the rezoning, City Manager Ronnie Dixon explained that the land had been used as a parking area for large dump trucks, equipment and materials, in violation of the land’s current zoning. The current property owner has done considerable work improving the land already, and the addition of the fenced-in area would still be an improvement over the way the property was previously used.
The council voted to table rezoning until more research could be done.
In a split 3-3 decision the council turned down an annexation on Dewey Heights Road. The homeowner, Gerardo Cortes, petitioned to join the city as the rear of his property was contiguous with land already in the city of Clay. His property would have been the only one on his street within the city limits, however, and would have been 17 doors down from his nearest Clay-resident neighbor, while only being four doors down from the city of Pinson.
The annexation was unanimously recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission. If the whole street could somehow be annexed it would go a long way to establishing the city’s borders — a necessary step in earning Clay its own ZIP code — Mayor Charles Webster said.
Baker believes it would be foolish to annex a single house on a street without a bigger plan in place.
“I’ve said before I’m all for filling in the map, but not extending, and this looks like we’re just extending down toward Pinson with no purpose in mind,” he said. “We’d only have one house on that street and no other houses right now on that street, and no plan on whether or not we’d ever have another house.”
Councilmen Ben Thackerson, Baker and Kevin Small were the dissenting votes.
The city also approved five weed abatements totaling $2,485.
In other news, the School Committee is looking for volunteers for the reading program at Chalkville and Clay elementary schools.
Demolition has begun at the building at Cosby Lake Park to make room for a new public restroom facility. All major interior demolition has been done and the next step will be to demolish the slab.