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Building permit denied

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER-Managing editor
The Brewton City Council denied an individual's request to acquire a permit to rebuild what council members deem a "nonconforming building."
According to Glen McCord, spokesperson for Cheatham Funeral Home, located on the corner of Rankin and Sowell, a permit had been purchased to rehabilitate the funeral home.
However, during the partial demolition it was found that the walls did not meet the Southern Building Code requirements. As a result, all the walls were completely demolished and the wooden floors were removed after a contractor fell through the floor.
The city stopped the progress and would not honor the previously purchased permit since, according to the city's land and use ordinance, the property converted to a "conforming use."
All that remains on the property is a 6' x 14' slab on a 50' x 150' lot in a now R-3 zone, a medium residential area.
McCord visited with Pete Diurno, director of community development, to obtain the new permit, and after delving deep into the municipal zoning codes it appeared that the funeral home was no longer allowed on the rezoned property.
Prior to the demolition the lot was zoned B-3, which allowed for commercial development. McCord said there is a barbershop and church down the road and a cemetery is located across the street from the existing funeral home. The only residence that appears to be present is located down a hill near the cemetery.
In 1992, the Cheatham Funeral Home was grandfathered as a "non conforming use." However, at that time a building was present and the business was licensed. McCord told council members Tuesday night that the intent of the rehabilitation was to enhance the structure, and the concrete slab was considered a part of the building's integrity, and therefore, remains grandfathered.
Diurno said that anything there in 1992 that didn't conform to that zoning was non-conforming.
Under article 12 of the land use and development ordinance, a nonconforming structure damaged or destroyed to an extent of 50 percent or more may not be reconstructed or restored to the same nonconforming use.
The City Council denied McCord's request for the building permit and the matter can now go into the hands of the Circuit Court.