By Gary Lloyd
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville City Council on Tuesday denied to rezone 1751 Gadsden Highway from institutional to commercial, the former Eastminster Presbyterian Church property.
The move came in a 3-2 vote. Council President Alan Taylor and councilmen Anthony Montalto and Brian Plant voted no. Councilmen Buddy Choat and Perry Cook voted for the rezoning.
There is already a Serra Kia dealership going in at the right side of the entrance to Brooke’s Crossing. This property is zoned R-2.
The Eastminster property would be for another Serra dealership. This is the property that was denied rezoning.
At the March 24 Trussville City Council meeting, a public hearing was held in regard to the possible rezoning of the former Eastminster Presbyterian Church property from institutional to commercial (C-2 zoning).
The Eastminster congregation merged two years ago with Grace Presbyterian Church to form Cahaba Springs Presbyterian Church, which is located on Deerfoot Parkway in Trussville. The 5.5-acre Eastminster property was under contract to Serra Automotive in February for $1,951,000. The plan could be for a Serra Kia car dealership.
Eric Helmers, a member of Cahaba Springs Presbyterian Church, is seeking to facilitate the sale of the Eastminster property on behalf of the church. He said the contract is contingent on the property being zoned commercial.
Montalto said at the March 24 meeting that people move to Trussville for schools, parks, nice subdivisions and great churches.
“They didn’t move here because they wanted Trussville to become like Highway 75 from Roebuck to Center Point, just full of car lots side by side for about a four-mile length there,” Montalto said.
Helmers said all areas surrounding the church property are zoned commercial except for Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home and Gardens. He said he wants the property to “conform” with the surrounding areas.
Plant said the city council’s vote was “purely a matter of land use.” He said that land being zoned commercial is “very intensive” for that area.
Members of Cahaba Springs Presbyterian Church attended the March 24 meeting, and most spoke in favor of the rezoning. If the rezoning is approved and the sale is finalized, the church will stand to gain much-needed revenue.
Laura Reichert, a member of the church, said the church or property owner should be able to sell to who it wants to. She said nine years of debt is almost paid off.
“We’re almost there,” she said before the vote. “We’re almost to the top of that mountain.”
Arnold Reichert, a member of the church, said Cahaba Springs is made up of “two struggling congregations that have come together.” He said the church needs financial help “so we can exist.” He said he wishes Eastminster could remain so its gym and meeting space could be used, but the church doesn’t have the money to keep it up.
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