COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The small lot that sits on the corner of Brown Avenue and Heard Street is at the center of a rezoning debate between the man who wants to run his business from there and the people who live in the neighborhood.
This is Heard Street in Columbus, Georgia. The Heard Street area is a predominantly Black neighborhood with rows of homes built during World War Two. Rick Carter’s family has owned property here since 1967.
“This is a residential area and we have enough rezoning that’s already been done in the area,” said Rick Carter who lives in the area.
Carter is talking about the blue house that sits on the corner of Heard Street and Brown Avenue. Lionel Reynolds owns it. Reynolds wants the lot rezoned from Residential Multifamily 1 to General Commercial. He says he wants to use the house as office space for his painting business, which would not require rezoning for commercial. Wednesday morning before the Planning Advisory Commission he explained his need for the rezoning.
“Just in case things changes like that so I would want it to be general commercial,” said Lionel Reynolds who’s requesting the rezoning.
David Lee lives in San Antonio, Texas but owns a few properties in this neighborhood. Like Carter, Lee was among those who received notice of the rezoning request because their properties are within a radius of 300 feet of the lot. He’s concerned that life is being chocked out of the neighborhood to make way for businesses, depriving African Americans of a chance to buy the empty homes in the area for families.
“ African Americans already, the homeownership is very low. Once the African American gets out the housing market, it’s going to be very difficult to get back in,” said David Lee who owns property in the area.
Property owner Crystal Pendleton Shahid is concerned about the future of the lot. She wants the same caveat applied to Carter’s property as the one applied to the business across from his.
“The caveat it has is that if the business ever closes the property returns to a residential zoning,” said Crystal Shahid, a property owner.
Carter’s mind is already made up.
“Being that this is a residential area, I don’t really think that it will be anything that will really change my mind about it.”
The Planning Advisory Commission unanimously approved the rezoning request. It now goes to City Council for approval.