GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - The Gadsden City Council will vote next week on a zoning issue that has gotten residents of a historic Gadsden neighborhood up in arms.
At issue are three homes on Springfield Avenue that are proposed to be refined from R-One, single family residential, to R-2, Multi-family dwelling. It’s located in the Green Pastures neighborhood in East Gadsden.
The owner of the three homes says he simply intends to improve the three buildings, including roof repairs and air conditioning.
But neighbors are upset it could be the first step to build an apartment complex that could bring heavier traffic and gentrification to the historically Black neighborhood.
“Two years from now, once it’s rezoned, then you’ve got a whole lot of other problems, if they acquire some more land. And then, see, it’s all ready to be rezoned, and therefore who’s stop it,” says Calvin Hutchinson, who lives in the neighborhood.
“This is dominant black neighborhood and we’d like to keep it that way, we don’t need any commercial businesses to come into this neighborhood,” Gloria Maye, another resident, said.
Residents say the neighborhood was designed during the segregation era in the 1940s, just after World War II, as a haven for Black men coming home from military service. Many of its residents remember when the main road was a dirt road.
Now, many of the current residents are described as elderly residents living out their retirement years.
City attorney Lee Roberts says the zoning change was requested by a bank where the property owner applied for a loan, and the land doesn’t have enough acreage for an apartment complex under city law.