KINSEY – For 15 minutes on Thursday plenty of chatter filled the Kinsey Senior Center. Then silence followed when Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Kerry Laseter asked for a motion.
Without a word spoken, Mark Dunning Industries’ request to rezone property near the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens suffered a setback – much to the pleasure of a standing-room-only crowd. If the request had gained momentum, MDI had planned to install a garbage transfer station on Headland Avenue near the outskirts of the Kinsey limits.
Dunning can file an appeal to another Kinsey board, and technically the Kinsey Town Council has the final say on rezoning requests. Dunning noted he will weigh his options before deciding what to do next.
The rezoning request, the last step needed for Dunning to obtain an Alabama Department of Environmental Management permit for the facility, met a wall of opposition in the last few weeks. Signs – some comical in nature – dotted yards along Headland Avenue, and several residents briefly expressed their displeasure with the suggestion during Thursday’s meeting.
“If you allow this to happen, you’re not devaluing our property. You’re condemning it,” one resident said. “No one will want to buy it.”
Some well-known fixtures in the Dothan area also spoke against the idea, including Dothan Area Botanical Gardens executive director William Holman and Landmark Park executive director Laura Stakelum. Both noted their facilities, which serve as tourist attractions, rely on outdoor events to operate, and a garbage transfer station nearby could produce odors that prevent visitors from coming.
“That’s not a risk you want to run when you’re having weddings and reunions and things outdoors like we do,” Stakelum said. “Landmark Park does function as Alabama’s official museum of agriculture. We attract a lot of visitors, and we didn’t want any visitors to get a bad impression.”
Stakelum noted Landmark Park owns property along Headland Avenue and future plans include development of that area. Dunning’s request generated concerns about traffic should both developments occur.
Without a motion, Dunning’s proposal failed to receive any recommendation from the planning and zoning board.
While residents expressed concerns about odors, rodents and traffic, Dunning told the Eagle before the meeting that the transfer station would not have a major impact on local residents. He said garbage would only collect on a concrete pad for a few minutes before being placed in a transfer truck, and once the truck was filled, it would leave for a landfill in Coffee County.
He added a modern misting system would mask any smells the transfer station produced. Holman said he and others visited a transfer station with a misting system that Dunning recommended, and “it was not a positive experience.”
Dunning also mentioned the property has served as a sawmill and recycling center before, which means Headland Avenue had experienced truck traffic before. He noted the road previously served as U.S. Highway 431, meaning crews had built it well.
While the request could advance to other boards, some in attendance reacted loudly to Thursday’s outcome. Stakelum said she believed the right decision would be made.
“We’re glad that everyone’s voice was heard, and hopefully (MDI) can find a better spot for what they want to do,” she said.