City adds new downtown district

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The city of Atmore amended its zoning ordinance during a special called meeting Monday afternoon, establishing a new “Downtown Business District” that will be added to its existing residential and business zones.

According to the amended ordinance, the Downtown Business District “is to establish uses compatible with a vibrant commercial and retail center and downtown area suitable for restaurants and family entertainment. Uses which are not compatible with this purpose are restricted to the other areas of the city.”

The new Downtown Business District encompasses much of what is currently downtown Atmore. While it is not a perfect square, it is approximately the parcels of land located between Carney Street and Presley Street, and between Ashley Street and Owens Street. The district does not include the southwestern parcels located between both U.S. Highway 31 and Owens Street, and between Trammell Street and Carney Street.

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In addition, the city council also voted to amend language in Article VI of the Zoning Ordinance, to now include the Downtown Business District as a legal zone. Article VI contains a detailed 11-page table that describes what permitted uses are allowed in each zone.

Some of the types of permitted uses not allowed in the new Downtown Business District include “kindergarten, play school or day care center,” “liquor, wine or beer sales not to be consumed on premises and meeting local and state requirements” and “tattoo and body piercing establishment.” Some of the uses that are allowed include “air conditioning sales and service,” “art gallery or museum” and “dwelling, single-family.”

There are several other uses that are also allowed in the Downtown Business District, but only under a special exception that must be granted by the Board of Adjustment. These uses include “ambulance/EMS service,” “archery range” and “YMCA, YWCA and similar institutions.”

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said the new zoning regulations are designed to maintain the historic charm of downtown Atmore. He also said that city officials hope it will allow Atmore’s downtown region to foster a “family-friendly atmosphere.”

“I’ve talked to almost everybody downtown, and they nearly all agree that they’d like it to stay quiet and family friendly,” he said. “We’ve got a very historic and nice looking downtown area, and we want to keep it that way. I know there are some empty shops right now, but it will turn around.

“We’re hoping that when it does turn around, we’ll be able to have some nice art-friendly shops and restaurants and that kind of thing.”

The other zones utilized in the city of Atmore remain the same. They are R-1 (low density residential), R-2 (medium density residential), R-3 (high density residential), B-1 (local business), B-2 (general business), M-1 (light industrial), M-2 (general industrial), and PUD (Planned Unit Development).