Council denies Shotwell rezoning request

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Bainbridge City Council has denied a request from the owners of a historic Shotwell Street home to re-zone their property from residential to office-professional use.

Sisters Carolyn Cooper Mauldin and Frances Cooper Bricken, who own a home at 442 E. Shotwell St., said they had been trying without success to sell the home, which is currently not lived in, for the past four years without success.

The sisters’ grandfather had originally bought the home in 1940 as a wedding present for his son and daughter-in-law. The sisters inherited it when their parents passed away.

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Mauldin and Bricken were seeking to have the property re-zoned as office/professional to attract more potential buyers who might wish to move in. Since the sisters no longer lived there and could not take care of the property indefinitely, they stated their idea was to find a buyer before the property deteriorated.

In December 2011, the sisters had requested a rezoning of their property from residential to neighborhood business to accommodate a potential buyer who wished to operate an antique shop out of the home. The Bainbridge Planning Commission recommended denial of the request, which was upheld by the City Council at the time.

Larry Miles, who owns and operates Miles Realty out of a historic former residence next door to 442 E. Shotwell St., stated his opinion that the home’s historic quality wouldn’t be affected by someone using it as an office.

“Anyone who purchased the property would naturally have an interest in keeping it up,” said Miles, who pointed out that there is a Historic Preservation Commission that has oversight over any proposed changes to a building’s exterior within the historic district.

Bricken said previous city leaders had already set precedent for allowing historic residences along Shotwell Street to be converted or torn down to accommodate churches and businesses.

Citizen Joe Livingston, who lives at 519 Shotwell St., spoke in opposition of the rezoning request.

“I don’t think the role of government should be to tweak their existing zoning ordinance to allow someone to [sell] their home,” Livingston said.

During the council’s brief discussion, City Manager Chris Hobby said the Planning Commission plans to consider an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance that would allow “Bed and Breakfast” establishments as a conditional use in the historic district.