Neighbors push back on B&B plan

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery family will go before the city's Planning Commission Thursday evening in hopes of rezoning their home on Fairview Avenue from 'Residential' to 'B1BQ', which is specifically zoned for a Bed and Breakfast

Their neighborhood, though, doesn't like the idea. The home on Fairview Avenue is near the corner of Norman Bridge Road in the Historic South Hull Neighborhood. Residents there say they don't like the idea of any kind of business moving into their neighborhood. They fear it invites other business rezonings in their area, which would take away from the residential quality they love.

The Harding family, who owns the home, says it's been their dream to open a Bed and Breakfast. They're asking the Planning Commission and those in the neighborhood who are opposed to it to give them a chance.

"I don't think people understand," said Kitchener Harding.  He says for his wife Mona Lisa and their large family, a Bed and Breakfast just makes sense.

"It's kind of hard because the kids are home schooled.  To have a business in the home that the kids could have a part in, would be great," Harding said.

The Hardings have been wanting to open a Bed and Breakfast in their home for several years, but so far, their rezoning requests have been denied.

"The people that I represent are deeply troubled at the possibility of any kind of business zoning at all in our neighborhood," said Dr. Susie Paul.

Paul is the President of the South Hull District Association.  She fears the rezoning would have a domino effect.

"Once that barrier is broached with any kind of business zoning, it would be easier for more businesses to come into the area and other properties to be sold and turned into businesses.  And this is a neighborhood," Paul added.

Charlie Colvin, the President of the Midtown Alliance, agrees.  That group represents several neighborhoods in the area, which he says, would be affected as well.

"It seems simple enough.  It seems harmless enough, but one rezoning would be the beginning of the crush to commercialize Fairview Avenue in that area," Colvin said.  "That property is pretty much held in time, and we'd like to keep it that way and preserve that part of history for midtown and the City of Montgomery."

But Mr. Harding sees it a much different way-- a relaxing, peaceful way for visitors to see the beauty of the city.

"It's my dream, this is the city of dreams.  This is my pursuit of happiness.  I just want people to give me a chance.  That's all I'm asking for," Harding said.

The Planning Commission meeting is set for 5:00 PM tonight in the City Council Chambers.  If the group approves the rezoning, it still has to go before the City Council.

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