The current zoning includes a general business district, a neighborhood business district and a central business district. Most of the town’s business zoning including areas along Interstate 20 is zoned as a general business district. That district allows the same businesses as a neighborhood business district such as restaurants that don’t serve alcohol, drug stores, groceries, convenience stores, barber shops or hair salons. It also adds things like hospitals, veterinary offices, commercial and public entertainment and recreational facilities. But it excludes establishments such as liquor stores, restaurants that serve liquor and convention centers. Those types of businesses are included in the central business district.
Currently, there are some businesses in the general business district that shouldn’t be there under existing zoning law, including an ABC Beverage store near exit 205 off of Interstate 20. To fix the problem and to add greater flexibility as the city tries to develop its industrial park and the other areas along the interstate, the city’s planning commission at its May meeting recommended changing the general business district to include the same businesses as the central business district without restriction on business size.
In addition, the amendment would add a condition that businesses serving alcohol within 500 feet of a residence would be banned from amplifying music or sound between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Friday, Saturday or on Federal holidays during the week.
The condition was added after several area residents near the newly opened Father and Son Grill, which has requested a liquor license, complained about the possibility of noise violations and traffic through their neighborhood. Currently the city has a noise ordinance in place.
“We thought this was the best way to work with the business and work with the citizens,” Shane Smith, Heflin city clerk said.
Councilman Travis Crowe, who represents the district where the grill opened, asked if the city should allow the amplified music at all.
“Do we want to do this? Because we went through this the last time,” Crowe said, referring to a sports bar that used to occupy the building and had mistakenly been given a liquor license. When it was open, Capt. A.J. Benefield, acting Heflin police chief, has said the police did receive complaints about the sports bar.
City attorney Patrick Casey suggested the council members review and amend the city’s noise ordinance, which applies all across the city. The amendment in the business zoning is more restrictive than what is in place now, but it only applies to businesses that serve alcohol in a general business district, Casey said.
The city has to fix the problem created by the improper zoning, Smith said. For instance, he said, if the zoning isn’t changed, the city will not be able to renew the ABC store’s business license when it comes up for renewal. That’s the reason for creating the amendment, Smith said.
“It’s got to be fixed,” Mayor Rudy Rooks said. “Our businesses depend on it.”
The public hearing will be just before the City Council’s next meeting on June 11 at 6 p.m.
In other business, the council members:
-Appointed Lana Burke to the city’s planning commission.
-Heard the city’s Farmers Market will hold its grand opening on Jun. 1 at 10 a.m.
-Heard the Cleburne County Rabies Clinic will be at Small Town Bank on Jun. 1 from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.