Rezoning Wilson Street deserves investigation
The city should focus on whether it can protect residents from the effects of rezoning the south side of Alabama 20 to allow industries.
City Council Chairman Billy Jackson, who represents the District 1 residents on the south side of Alabama 20, also called Wilson Street Northwest, showed good instincts when he expressed reservations about rezoning the south side of the road to permit industry. Economic progress has a way of trampling those who lack the money to protect themselves.
Longtime residents with property abutting the south side of Wilson Street, however, would benefit from rezoning. They have watched Decatur industries sprout up around them. With those industries have come 24/7 trucks groaning under the weight of their cargo and a host of other problems.
Houses that at one time would have fetched enough money to permit residents to buy in another part of town no longer permit such an escape.
Rezoning the south side of the Wilson Street corridor, however, would leave residences one block to the south in closer proximity to industries. They will have lost the buffer created by the residences that abut Wilson Street.
The city's attention should be on whether there are more efficient buffers to protect those who would find themselves in the backyard of factories in the event of rezoning. Planners have a host of buffering techniques including trees, shrubs, landscaping that creates a hill between manufacturers and residents, and privacy fences.
Clearly Decatur would benefit from a rezoned Wilson Street. Many of the plants on the north side of Wilson Street — particularly Nucor and Boeing — are a draw to suppliers. The south side of Wilson also would provide prospective industries other benefits that come with being in an area already accustomed to industrial use. Infrastructure — including roads, electricity, sewer and natural gas — are already capable of handling the needs of industry.
Decatur and those who abut Wilson Street would benefit from rezoning. Researching the remaining issue, whether existing residents could be protected from the creeping industrialization caused by rezoning, should be next on the city's to-do list.