Woodley Rd. cemetery plan dead

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Not in their backyard! Residents of a south Montgomery neighborhood prevailed in their fight to stop plans to build a cemetery adjacent to their subdivision.

It was one of the most well-attended city council meetings--ever. The chambers were full of folks on both sides of the issue--so much so that officials had to keep people from going inside because it was a fire hazard.

Two opposing sides took to the lectern.  Both of them were trying to convince council members to support their positions on a cemetery development on Woodley Road.

"At some point as a landowner, at some point as a business owner, I should have the right to develop that land," says landowner Ted Hopkins.

"We expect better.  We do not want a cemetery," says resident Shelia Jackson.

Residents in the Bellmeade subdivision worried a cemetery would hurt their property values and bring crime and vandalism. Their neighborhood sits next to the proposed site.

"This has been dragging on and on and on and on and on," said District 6 Councilman Jon Dow as each side presented their case.

In the end, Dow--who represents the Bellmeade area--did not present a motion to rezone the land.  That means the rezoning efforts failed and ended any cemetery plans.

"I'm glad the council saw it our way.  I'm glad they took into account our concerns and voted our way," says Jackson.

However, Developer Xavier Harris questions the future of the property.

"They don't want change. They don't want anything different. Only thing I can say is we'll move on."

Councilman Dow believes he was caught in the middle.  He thought a cemetery would be nice for the area, but still wanted to support the neighborhood's wishes.

"I feel very sad for the developer, but if the community said we really are concerned about this, then we really have to take that into consideration."

The council also approved the latest plan to redraw council district lines to try and create districts similar in population.

The plan now goes to the Department of Justice for approval.

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