By Lee Weyhrich
Some Pinson residents voiced their concern with the Pinson City Council regarding the proposed site of a Joe Hudson Collision Center at Thursday’s city council meeting. The vocal citizens led to Councilman Robbie Roberts entering a motion to rescind a vote last week.
At the last council meeting, the council voted 3-2 to offer incentives to the business to move into the former Big 10 Tire building, and lease-to-own the city-owned parcel of property closest to the highway. The plan would allow JHCC to essentially get the additional property for free as long as the business hit certain specified sales numbers.
Councilman Joe Cochran made a motion to table the vote for 30 days, effectively putting a hold on both the original agreement and the rescission until further research could be done.
When the council voted to purchase the property around Big 10 Tire and Rite Aide, they did so with the goal of turning the land into a restaurant and commercial district. While it appears the collision center would technically be “commercial” under the current definition used by the Board of Zoning Adjustments, Roberts, who helped write the zoning rules said it was never the intent of those who drafted the city zoning rules for such a business to be anything other than light industrial. In fact, Roberts added, other locations of the Joe Hudson franchise, such as the one in Trussville, are zoned light industrial.
Concerns expressed by residents included lowered property values, environmental issues, the eyesore of having junk cars on the main thoroughfare, and the belief that once such a business is put there no restaurants will ever want to locate to the other parcels of land in that location. Many said they were happy the collision center wanted to come to the city, but just hoped they could find a spot further away from the city center.
“Why are we allowing the placement of this business right in the heart of town,” Pinson resident Diana Heron asked. “That area is prime for the growth of our city. That will not do anything to grow our city.”
She added that that land should be used to beautify and draw businesses and patrons into the city. Another resident, Van Muth, admonished the council for not planning ahead for what the city could become after the Northern Beltway is opened.
Councilmen John Churchwell and Roberts largely agreed with those sentiments. According to Roberts, once an automotive graveyard was placed on prime real estate, the only restaurant that might want to move to that area would be one with a “junkyard theme,” essentially devaluing all the other land owned by the city in that area. He also expressed concerns as to what the fluids from wrecked vehicles might do to groundwater.
Another concern to Roberts is the city’s legal liability if Joe Hudson bought the Big 10 building only to find out later that zoning doesn’t allow that business there.
Pinson tables incentives vote for 30 days
By Lee Weyhrich