Linden residents irked about zoning violation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Zoning issues concerning a helper home in the Pinecrest neighborhood brought a room full of concerned citizens before the linden City Council last night.

A petition was presented from all of the residents of Pinecrest to have the council enforce the zoning ordinance, which classified the neighborhood as an R-1.

Sylvan Mutschler, who served as a spokesman for the neighborhood said citizens were not as concerned with the tenants themselves as they were with the violation of the neighborhoods R-1 zoning.

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“Our position is that according to the Linden City zoning ordinance article four section 40.0 this area is in the R-1 zone, which is for single family structures,” Mutschler said. “We urge the mayor and the city council to consider this matter carefully.”

Another resident felt it was a conflict of interest that city attorney Woody Dinning’s firm executed the deed. But, Dinning said while his law firm may have prepared the deed, there was no conflict of interest.

“I represent the city of Linden and there have been a lot of rumors going around over the last two weeks about what is going on,” Dinning said. “Personally, I don’t know anything about the property, I don’t know who is residing there. All I know is what I have had in discussions with Cheryl (Hall), Butch (King) and Pat Vice. That is it.”

As far as taking immediate action, Dinning said, it was not that simple.

“No crime has been committed, therefore nothing can be done,” Dinning said. “Nothing can be done until people are here stating their opposition to this project. We cannot selectively enforce the law. ”

Currently, there are three individuals with mental disabilities living in the home with people coming in around the clock to care for them. Wade Reese, a representative of the Arc of Fayette and the home, said the entire problem was simply a misunderstanding. Reese said it was never their intent to violate any ordinance; they just wanted to find a suitable place for the three to live.

“The reason I didn’t contact anyone was not because we were trying to sneak in,” Reese said. “We were trying to find somewhere for them to live. The homes in Demopolis were too expensive. We just could not afford them.”

The tenants were in apartments and had to be out quickly, Reese said. They began looking at homes in the area and noticed the Pinecrest home for sale.

“We just happened upon this home,” Reese said. “We were looking at a real estate magazine, asked the real estate person if we could look at this home and it was pretty quick.”

The idea for buying the home, Reese said, was to find a nice place for the tenants to live. It was never their intention, he said, to upset any of the residents.

“We weren’t trying to sneak them in, it is just that there were time constraints upon us,” Reese said. “We were trying to find a place we could afford and we got them in. That is what it was all about. It wasn’t about trying to sneak them in. I had no idea it would cause a bunch of turmoil.”

The three tenants of the home are from three separate families, which is a violation of the zoning.

Because of this, Linden Mayor Pat Vice advised Reese to take the proper measures to either have the area rezoned of consider relocation.

The process of rezoning begins with a petition and then moves to the city’s zoning board for approval.

Reese said he would consider the options and get in touch with city hall.

In other business:

nThe council recognized the Linden Police Department for last week’s drug bust.

n Approved the hire of Rob Vost with the department.