Residents React to Proposed Apartment Complex

Residents of Opelika filled the Municipal Courtroom during Opelika's City Council meeting Tuesday night. Many were there to speak both for and against a proposed apartment complex. photo by michelle key / the observer



Several members of the community were in attendance at Tuesday night’s Opelika City Council meeting to address the council during a public hearing pertaining to a proposed ordinance to rezone land located at S. 10th Street and Avenue C. The rezoning would allow a multi-family residential apartment complex to be built on the property without requiring retail spaces on the ground floor of the development.

Twenty-six individuals took the floor and spoke either for or against the rezoning, and the proposed apartment complex, The Taylor.

Fifteen people spoke against the project.

“I am absolutely against any eminent domain and if anybody’s property should need to be taken to be used to widen the road [10th Street], it should be the developers if this was to pass and y’all let it go through,” said one resident, Clay Williford.

Former councilmember Tiffany Gibson spoke about gentrification.

“Now if you look at the prices that are already outlined for that particular development, I don’t know many people that live in Ward 1 who is going to be able to afford that rent,” Gibson said. “I do encourage you council members to look into that as you start to make this decision … There needs to be some type of plan in place to address gentrification. In Ward 1 we have a minority council member, you bring that big development, then we’re at risk at losing a minority seat. That may not be a concern for some people but it is for people who look like me.”

Another resident, Kim Golden used her time to address trust and transparency issues.

“I think a lot of us have concerns when we read that the developers are going on record saying that they have a 50-year vision for Opelika,” she said. “I think many of us have never heard the name of these developers until this came up and a lot of us would like to be a part of that 50-year vision and seeing what that looks like.”

Eleven spoke for it.

Bill Montgomery was the first person to speak out in support of the project simply stating, “If these folks don’t like what is happening down there, my suggestion is they should pool their money, buy the property from the current owners and they can do whatever they want to do.”

Downtown business owner, Robert Johnson, also spoke for the project.

“I think one of the greatest things about having housing in the downtown area is that it actually provides us with citizens who will actually be in that area to help funnel support and shop in the downtown area,” he said.

Executive Director of Opelika Main Street Ken Ward spoke about the need to increase foot traffic in downtown Opelika in order for it to thrive.

“The proposed Taylor complex has the ability to positively affect downtown for many years to come,” he said. “In partnership with many different organizations and groups, Main Street has participated in numerous studies and reports in how to continue downtown’s success and growth. Most, if not all of them, have pointed to one thing in common — the need for more housing in and around the downtown area.

“Countless studies across the nation in many different communities have shown that residents that live in or within walking distance to downtown spend higher amounts in downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Many of those types of businesses, especially in Opelika, are locally owned and operated.

“When downtown thrives, all of Opelika thrives.”

Emily Baas, who lives in the historic district and works in downtown Opelika also spoke for the project and rezoning.

“I love Opelika with all my heart; it is my home.” Baas said. “I walk downtown many times a week. What do I see when I walk in downtown on a Monday or a Tuesday? I see empty streets. I would like to see them full every day. I would like Opelika as a thriving downtown city.

“I believe the only way to change this is to create more residential properties within walking distance … People want to work and live in their area. It is very important.”

Others, including Nelson Marsh, whose family owns the land at the proposed site, also spoke during the meeting. Nelson mainly shared about his family’s love for Opelika.

“When you say ‘the developers’ and ‘the land owners’ … what you’re saying is ‘The Marshes,’ and you’re saying me, and my mom and my dad, and we have loved this city well for my entire life and for the last 30 years of their life. We are not going anywhere, we are staying right where we are and we are going to continue stewarding the structures that we have been entrusted with and doing everything we can to save every single historic structure in downtown Opelika … Nothing is coming down for this.”

The second reading and vote on this ordinance are scheduled for April 5.

Also during the meeting, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller and the city council awarded meritorious service awards to Detective Jacob Taylor, K9 Bane and Officer Giovanni Santiesteban.


– Following a public hearing the council voted to authorize a 112 million dollar project agreement between the city of Opelika, Opelika Industrial Development Authority and Niagara Bottling, Inc. [See the announcement on page B10.]

– The council also voted to approve a resolution to approve certain tax abatements and exemptions for Niagara Bottling, LLC and Bo Knows Bottling! Properties, LLC.

– The council approved a request for a lounge retail liquor class I and on-premise beer license for Billiards Asset Management Inc dba Auburn Billiards and Brew.

– The council approved a request for a restaurant retail liquor and on-premise beer license for Demaj Inc dba Maffias Italian Restaurant.

– The council approved a request for a restaurant retail liquor and on-premise beer license for Mariscos Playa Azul LLC dba Mariscos Playa Azul.

– The council approved an updated request by the Opelika Chamber for Food Truck Friday Nights in downtown Opelika.

– The council approved a request by Envision Opelika for the Annual Unity Stampede 5K/Walk on April 9.

– The council approved a bid for the OPD Scanning Project.

– The council approved a bid for a door access key system for the IT department.

– The council approved a bid for the archery range at Spring Villa.

– The council approved a bid for a roundabout at Sportsplex Parkway and West Point Parkway.

– The council approved the purchase of (624) Toter 96 GAL EVR II Universal/Nestable Carts for Environmental Services.

– The council approved the purchase of Desktop/Endpoint, Server Security and Firewall Protection.

– The council approved the purchase of VMware Maintenance and Support for Server Cluster.

– The council approved the purchase of network equipment and cameras for the new OES building.

– The council approved a resolution to accept a professional services agreement with Sain Associates, Inc. for the construction inspection of the Sportsplex Parkway Roundabout.

– The council approved an agreement for the realignment of N. 28th Street.

– The council approved change order No. 1 for the North Uniroyal Bridge Project.

– The council approved change order No. 3 to the Geneva Street Improvements Project with Robinson Paving Co.

– Following the public hearing, the council approved the vacation of an unnamed 16-foot alley between S. 10th Street and the railroad right-of-way.

– The council approved a special appropriation to Envision Opelika in the amount of $5,000 for the purchase of stage curtains for the performing arts stage.

– The council approved a special appropriation to Southern Union State Community College Foundation.

– The council approved a special appropriation to Envision Opelika for the Annual Unity Stampede Walk/Run.

– The council introduced an ordinance pertaining to the Leasing of the property located at 200 S. 6th St. to the Opelika Chamber of Commerce for 1st reading.

– Following a public hearing, the council introduced an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance, Section 7.3 – District Regulations & Use Categories, and Section 7.7 Downtown Residential Living for its 1st reading.

– The council voted to reappoint Auzzie Comer to the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals for a new term ending March 16, 2025.

– The council voted to reappoint David Hudmon to the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals for a new term ending March 16, 2025.

– The council voted to reappoint Michael Carter to the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals for a new term ending March 16, 2025.

– The council voted to reappoint Kevin Royal to the Board of Education for a new term ending April 1, 2027.


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