Jane Self Burnham owns the four properties located near the intersection of Pelham Road and West Mountain Street. Her son Patrick Burnham, who served as her representative during the meeting, said one reason for the request is difficulty finding appropriate tenants.
“These properties are important to our family,” Burnham said. “However, maintenance has declined over the past few years.”
In addition to poor tenants, Burnham cited increased retail activity surrounding the rental properties near Alabama 21 as an additional need for rezoning.
“Traffic on the street has increased,” Burnham said. “The Grub Mart and Burger King have changed the neighborhood situation.”
Burnham said if the rental properties were to be rezoned for commercial use, his mother would ensure the properties reflect historic Jacksonville.
“My mother is hoping the future of these properties will be appropriate and good for the entire community.” Burnham said.
Burnham said he has made preliminary contact with a commercial developer from Atlanta who would be willing to come analyze the property value. He also mentioned that a credit union had expressed interest in the properties.
Several residents attending the meeting were concerned about not knowing what type of business would be entering the neighborhood. Debbie Harper rents property on neighboring Spring Street and is concerned about a new business encroaching on her property.
“I don’t want a business looking right into my home,” Harper said. “Not knowing what it’s going to do to my property value is a concern of mine.”
Jacksonville resident Joe Donahue said he sees the business development as a positive move for the city.
“I think having commercial property that’s owned by somebody in the county on this street is a good thing and will increase the city’s livelihood,” Donahue said.
Following the public hearing, the commission determined the request was in compliance with the requirements of the city’s comprehensive land use plan and officially turned the item over to the Jacksonville City Council. The council will meet Monday at City Hall at 7 p.m. following a 6 p.m. work session.
Burnham stressed that he and his mother will take the concerns of the surrounding landowners into consideration.
“We are ready to move forward with this,” Burnham said. “We want the property to have the highest and best use.”