By William C. Singleton III
The Mountain Brook City Council will likely decide tonight whether a new Piggly Wiggly will be built at a controversial spot in Crestline.
The council called a special meeting on Dec. 16 to consider rezoning three lots on Vine Street to pave the way for a new Piggly Wiggly. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall at 56 Church Street.
Naseem Ajlouny and Andy Virciglio have asked the council to rezone two lots from residential to commercial and another from professional district to commercial so they can build a 28,250-square-foot Piggly Wiggly grocery store with up to 92 additional parking spaces.
Building the store would require removing three existing buildings, including a facility the Girl Scouts currently use and an early learning center.
Though Mountain Brook residents have been clamoring for a return of Piggly Wiggly to their neighborhood after the former store closed at 93 Euclid Ave. – ending a 30-year relationship with the community – many residents are split on whether the new store should be located in the proposed area, which is near Crestline Elementary School and a park.
They say the presence of the store would increase traffic and make the area dangerous for children who attend the elementary school and those who use the park.
At their Nov. 24 meeting, council members heard the architect – Jeffrey Brewer, executive vice president for Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood – discuss the proposal and modifications made since the Nov. 3 planning commission meeting.
At that meeting, the planning commission voted 4-3 for rezoning the property but recommended the developers eliminate from their plan traffic access using Vine Street. Brewer told council members keeping Vine Street open is essential to the plan but outlined changes to the proposal, which include moving a service entrance for truck deliveries from Vine Street to an alley that runs parallel to Vine Street.
Changes to the original plan also include funneling traffic exiting the store’s parking lot away from the school, adding an additional sidewalk on Vine Street, adding a pedestrian crosswalk from Crestline Elementary across Vine Street and adding decorative six-foot high wrought iron fencing as a buffer between the parking lot and the sports fields.
But several residents who spoke at the more than two hour Nov. 24 council meeting opposed any traffic from the store accessing Vine Street. Residents also complained that approving the rezoning would invite further commercial encroachment into the neighborhood.
However, council members said that additional lots necessary to accommodate a Piggly Wiggly store are already zoned for retail use.
Council President Virginia Smith said she liked the proposal with its new changes. Councilman Billy Pritchard recommended delaying a vote so residents could review changes made since the planning commission meeting.