A building owner is one step closer to opening a banquet hall on Judd Street after the city of Woodstock rezoned his property, but some neighbors are worried about how the business could impact their neighborhood.
Rodney Poore owns a warehouse at 333 E. Judd St. that he wants to transform into a banquet hall. The 10,000-square-foot building previously housed the now-defunct KHC Spring Corp., but it’s sat empty for more than two years.
“The area near my building has changed over the years, and as manufacturing has dissipated in the area, buildings have sat vacant and in need of repair,” Poore told the City Council May 16. “They become an eyesore and do nothing to help the local community.”
Poore envisions renovating the warehouse so it can be rented out for parties, meetings, classes, family celebrations and weddings, among other events.
Poore’s property had been zoned for light manufacturing, which doesn’t allow for banquet facilities. The City Council granted his request May 16 to rezone the property for service and retail businesses, but council members said final approval of his plans will have to wait.
“We are being asked … not to look at any plan designs, not to look at anything associated with approval for the business, per se, but only looking at the zoning change,” Mayor Brian Sager said.
Some residents who live near Poore’s property spoke out against the zoning change. They worried about limited parking on the property and nearby streets, and the increased traffic and noise that could accompany the opening of a banquet hall in their neighborhood.
“With parking, you have traffic, so that’s a real concern if you’re serving alcohol at a banquet facility,” said Larry Martin, who lives near Poore’s property.
Others worried less about the banquet hall than what could follow it. A service and retail district allows for businesses ranging from pawn shops to RV dealerships, although many require special-use permits before they can open.
“[Use] caution regarding rezoning this,” said Estelle Mills, a neighborhood resident. “… Really think about what you’re opening up the door to here.”
But other neighbors welcomed the change. Randy Redman said he remembers the heyday of manufacturing on Judd Street, when semi-trucks and other signs of industry were common in his neighborhood. Now, he said, rezoning the property could revitalize and clean up the area.
“I think we need different zoning in that area, whether it be the banquet hall or whatever the case may be,” Redman said.
The council voted 6-0 to approve the zoning change. Councilman Dan Hart recused himself because of a business interest conflict.