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Board approves rezoning for center

A unanimous decision of Brewton’s Zoning Adjustment Board has given organizers for the proposed John L. Fisher Community Center a green light to move forward with their plans.
A request to make a special exception for the property that formerly housed the Brewton Middle School was presented to the board Monday with Stephanie Walker acting as a spokesperson for the group.
“We have had an architect inspect the building who has good working knowledge of the property,” Walker said. “We will have another inspection to see what use needs are for the property and what the best use of space will be.”
Community Development Director Steve Yuhasz told board members that the group had been given specific guidelines on what the City of Brewton would require for the property.
“This decision for a special exception will allow the group to follow through with their plans for property,” Yuhasz said. “If they do not meet the conditions set forth by the Brewton City Council, this agreement will cease to exist.”
Joe Watson, who was speaking as a citizen rather than a councilman, said the question of funding for the project was something the group couldn’t answer.
“We don’t know about funding for the project just yet,” Watson said. “Until we get into the building we can’t know what we will be able to support there. Until the city lets us get into the building, that’s a question we just don’t have an answer for yet.”
Board member Dave Avant made the motion to allow the special exception. Amanda Bell seconded the motion with other members Betty Clair and Charlie McDaniel voting in favor as well. Board member Cheryl Najor was not in attendance for Monday’s meeting. Chris Griffin and Adam Powell, both members of the board, abstained in the voting process due to their involvement with the organizers for the proposed center.
“We’re excited to have jumped this hurdle,” Watson said following the vote. “This was a big step for us and now we can move ahead with some of our plans.”
Organizers say some community-based organizations and groups had already expressed an interest in having a spot to call their own at the proposed center.
Watson said leaders with groups like the Escambia RSVP, Brewton Community Theatre, Brewton Nutrition Center and others have already expressed a desire to have a space at the center.
“We want this to be a center of activity for the entire community,” Watson said. “I’m just glad things can move forward from here.”