DECATUR — Plans to rezone property on a street leading to one of Decatur's most beloved parks are on hold for now, after city council members raised concerns about opening up a residential area to light commercial use.
At issue was a proposal by city staff to rezone 1326-1336 West Eldorado Street, the current home of Temple B’Nai Abraham, and the adjoining address of 1308 West Eldorado Street, now housing Decatur Fire Department’s Station 3.
The proposal would have allowed both land parcels — lining the road that leads to Fairview Park — to be shifted to B-1 status, opening them for retail development like small shops. The council voted 5-1 Monday night to table the rezoning for 30 days to provide time for more public comment and to see if there is a chance the temple property could be sold for residential rather than retail use.
The request to rezone the temple had come from the synagogue's own membership, which is desperate to sell the building. The city plans to replace the firehouse with a new station on nearby Fairview Plaza and city planners believed rezoning the fire station site to B1 would make both land parcels more attractive to buyers.
Gary Geisler, one of the leaders at the temple, said the synagogue membership has declined so rapidly that selling the place is the only option they have left. "I can tell you it is with sorrow that we've come to the point where we have to sell the temple," he told the council meeting hosted in the auditorium of the Decatur Civic Center.
But the council was persuaded by the argument of Councilman Chuck Kuhle who voiced concern about rushing too fast to alter the character of the West Eldorado Street approach to the park: "I am not ready to change the dynamics of going into that park," he said.
Councilwoman Lisa Gregory agreed: "This is one of our legacy parks and we should give serious consideration to the way that looks when you enter in that street."
In other business, the council did vote to approve rezoning property at 5 Southland Drive and 11 Isabella Drive from single family residence to “B-2 commercial district” to promote business development.
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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid
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