FLORENCE — A recommendation to rezone the former Florence Golf and Country Club to make it more attractive to a prospective buyer sailed through the city Planning Commission on Tuesday night with a unanimous vote.
The recommendation included a rider for the property to revert to its original zoning if the transaction is not closed.
The City Council will discuss and likely vote on the recommendation to change the zoning from floodway, agricultural and recreational to residential-business at its Feb. 5 meeting. The council has the authority to ignore the reversion clause, or to add even more restrictions to the development if an agreement is reached with the Chinese company that wants to buy the 155-acre property.
There was a discussion among commission members about the restrictions that could be placed on the property to help ensure that the company's plan — to build an educational and residential graduate program in integrative medicine with the University of North Alabama — is adhered to.
Commission Chairman Jim Stanphill said the council can place restrictive covenants in the deed if it chooses, or can ask the Planning Commission to place a zoning overlay on the property that limits its uses.
Councilman Andy Betterton, who is a member of the commission, said he wants to have some protections that would restrict uses if the educational facility is not built, but added he does not want to hamper Mayor Mickey Haddock's negotiations with the owner of Guizhou Shenqi Group, Zhang Zhiting.
Commission member Ben Graves said leaving the zoning residential-business if the sale does not go through would make the property more attractive to another buyer.
"The final decision lies with the City Council," said Melissa Bailey, city planning director.
In another matter, the commission granted final resubdivision approval to C.K. Irby for a single-family residential development on Lawrence Avenue, immediately off Hermitage Drive near the intersection of Helton Drive. Irby had tried for years to have the property rezoned for apartments, but neighboring residents as well as the commission would not go along with the request.
The commission also granted preliminary resubdivision approval to SRT Inc. for a planned apartment development on Helton Drive near Heritage Christian University.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.