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Hartselle approves variances for developer with links to Lowes

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The Board of Zoning Adjustment approved two variances for an Anniston development company with ties to Lowe's Home Improvement.

The variances went to McWhorter and Co., a commercial contractor that this year announced Lowe's locations in Wetumpka and Dothan.

The company, Lowe's corporate office and Hartselle city leaders will neither confirm nor deny that Lowe's plans to locate on the 27-acre site on U.S. 31 near Abercrombie Chevrolet.

The application seeking the variances was from McWhorter and did not include the name of the planned development.

Lowe's is reportedly buying the property and McWhorter is the middleman.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley would only say that a large retail development is building on the land and an announcement will come in November.

The two variances approved Monday will allow the development to install 438 parking spaces instead of 365 and let the business' sign be 3 feet higher than allowed by ordinance, City Planner Jeremy Griffith said.

Hartselle requires parking spaces to be 10 by 12 feet. The development will be allowed to have 9-by-8-foot spaces.

Griffith said the developer has not submitted drawings for the sign.

"I can't tell you who it is because I have not seen any drawings with names," he said.

Earlon C. McWhorter, whom former Gov. Don Siegelman appointed as an at-large member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees in 2001, is president of the development company.

McWhorter said in March that a Lowe's was locating in Wetumpka on U.S. 231.

In June, the Dothan Planning Commission approved McWhorter's plans for a second Lowe's in Dothan.

For almost a month, workers have surveyed and drilled on the site where Lowe's is rumored to be locating.

The city annexed the property in 2002 when Daryl Slate was preparing to construct a 150,000-square-foot plant. Slate's project didn't materialize and the land has been vacant since then.

As was the case in Wetumpka and Dothan, if the development in Hartselle comes to fruition, Tankersley said, the city will make infrastructure improvements on U.S. 31.

The company has locations in Decatur and Athens.

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