Our Opinion: Zoning vote right for our community

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

By Staff
The Brewton Planning Commission found itself between a rock and a hard place last week.
On one side were residents upset that a Wal-Mart Supercenter would be right in their back yards. On the other side were developers representing the retailer, who said any major changes in their site plan could nix the project altogether.
The planning commission sided with what will likely benefit the most people in Brewton, approving the rezoning of the Wal-Mart property on U.S. Highway 31 for business use, which paves the way for the Supercenter to be built there.
The matter still must go before the city council for final approval. The council has set a public hearing on March 27 to discuss the issue.
Wal-Mart developers have made some concessions to the adjacent property owners, but the sticking point is that Wal-Mart won't give up its outparcels of property - the lots closest to the highway - because they can bring in extra money. Property owners want Wal-Mart to give those up and move the store farther away from their land.
In the end, the planning commission members did what they are charged to do: Determine the best use and development of land in accordance with city ordinances. The Wal-Mart project meets those ordinances, and now it's up to the city council to decide whether to agree.
In a perfect world, everyone would have gone home happy from the commission meeting. And anyone can understand the frustration on the part of property owners who have poured so much into their homes, only to find that a retail giant will soon be located a stone's throw from their backyards.
But the Wal-Mart project is too important to lose. The sales tax revenue it would bring to Brewton's general fund and its school system alone make it worthwhile. The Supercenter will help our city maintain its hold as the retail center for our area, and that will mean new money and new business for years to come.
It was a difficult decision for the commission, but it was the right decision.

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