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Selma says a house can become home to a business

The Selma Town Council will allow commercial uses in this house at 110 S. Massey St. Scott Bolejack | Johnstonian News

SELMA — Despite some high-profile opposition, the Town Council on Jan. 10 assigned Selma’s “transitional residential” zoning to the house and lot at 110 S. Massey St.

The zoning allows business uses in dwellings. And Selma leaders created the zoning in part because they figured an owner might be more willing to take on the restoration of an older home if it could later produce an income stream.

Former Selma mayor Cheryl Oliver conceded that argument. “Sometimes these large properties get n very bad shape, and it’s too costly for an individual or family to rehab it and live in it, and so it becomes commercial property,” she said.

“That’s not the case with this property,” said Oliver, who lives two doors down from the house. “It has been enhanced to a great degree by the last two families that have lived there.”

“It seems to still have life as a residential property,” Oliver continued. “What’s the compelling reason to make the change? We have a lot of office space available.”

Oliver predicted that transitional residential would not stop with that one house near hers. “Once this one property begins to transition, you can almost count on a snowballing effect,” she said.

That could lead to a much-altered neighborhood, Oliver said. “Do we see Edgerton Memorial United Methodist Church, a block away, being surrounded by businesses?” she asked.

But council members noted that many proposed business uses in transitional residential require council approval, a guard against unwanted businesses near homes.

“We can say yes or no to what’s coming,” said Councilman Joe Scarboro.

The owner of the house at 110 S. Massey plans to use it as a real estate office.

Michael Carter, an attorney for the owner, noted that Selma’s Planning Board was unanimous in its support of the rezoning request. “This type of zoning allows your community to keep developing, not only in a way where it allows people to live in these homes but also to keep them up,” he said. “They can be expensive to keep up.”

Only Councilman William Overby voted against the rezoning request.