The Cullman Times
Recently, there have been some troubling news stories about a proposed entertainment center slated for Highway 157 north of town.
The 10 acres are located on Commerce Avenue behind Quality Inn and Waffle House. That means the only access to the property is via Commerce Avenue or St. Joseph Drive; there is no direct access from Highway 157. And that’s a major issue.
Apparently, the proposed venue would consist of a 500-person nightclub/brewery/wine room and an outdoor amphitheater for 1,500 along with a parking lot for up to 2,000. The traffic, noise, crime, runoff and burden on law enforcement would simply be too great. It’s a poor location for such a business.
Here’s why: Highway 157 between I-65 and Highway 31 already has traffic problems and lots of accidents. But the vehicles of 2,000 additional people would make it nightmarish. Much of that traffic would be forced to use the “suicide lane” on Highway 157. And we would likely see a surge in illegal parking as well as pedestrians trying to cross Highway 157.
Even worse would be the traffic on St. Joseph Drive, which is a two-lane, no passing, 40-mile-per-hour, heavily residential street. There are over 50 driveways and 20 streets that link hundreds of homes to this small artery. It would become a bumper-to-bumper gridlock.
The noise associated with an outdoor amphitheater for 1,500 would be overwhelming. More than 200 nearby homes will be within close earshot of the loud music, and Cullman’s Noise Ordinance allows for the music to go on until 11:30 p.m. There will be bright lights for the amphitheater and parking lots (which will be lit from dusk to dawn, seven days a week) causing a floodlight effect on many houses nearby. We could realistically expect an upturn in crime in those neighborhoods.
There are several other issues, smaller, perhaps, but no less troubling: things like trash along the roadways and tremendous runoff (with trash and toxins) from the multi-acre parking lot.
These factors will cause a dramatic loss of property values across a large swath of the city. With loss of property value comes loss of property tax revenues for the city.
There is an easy and reasonable solution. Cullman already has a designated E-1 District—12 acres (not just 10) behind the Smith Farms store on Highway 278. It’s a much better site for the kind of events such a large venue would need to be successful. It has better highway access, fewer nearby residences and only a couple of nearby businesses.
Let’s develop the E-1 District that we already have rather than create another one.
So let your opinion be heard. Now is the time to speak up before a final decision is made. Write to the City Council and the Mayor (PO Box 278, Cullman, AL 35056). Write a letter to the editor. Clip or copy this article and give it to a neighbor. And be sure to attend the public hearing on May 28th at 7:00 p.m. at the City Auditorium, 204 Second Avenue NE.