Phillips Drive is too narrow.
That is one thing both sides agreed on Monday at a public hearing regarding part of the road being closed permanently.
The Gardendale City Council hosted the hearing, where, by a show of hands, the majority of the audience was in favor of the road closing for good.
The eastern section of the roadway is temporarily closed for about 100 yards just past the parking lot entrance of a newly-built Dollar General store at Phillips Drive and Fieldstown Road. The city of Gardendale closed the road while the store was under construction.
Dollar General opened July 4.
Phillips Drive is a loop, with both ends exiting on Fieldstown Road. All residents of Phillips Drive and the Northridge subdivision must enter and exit on the eastern section of Phillips.
Proponents for closing the road and those who want it to remain open both cited the narrowness of the roadway as one of their main reasons.
“The road is not up to code for two-way traffic,” said Teresa Watson, who lives on Phillips Drive with her husband Michael and their two children. Watson provided photographs to the city council that show tracks in her yard from vehicles moving over when meeting another car.
The Watsons want Phillips Drive to remain closed so the volume of traffic does not increase from Dollar General shoppers; Teresa Watson said many children play and ride bicycles near Phillips Drive and the Northridge subdivision. Northridge’s only entrance and exit is on Phillips Drive.
Another resident, Michael Moon, said the narrow road is the reason he wants the eastern side of Phillips Drive reopened. Moon lives in the Northridge subdivision.
He said having only one way in and out of Phillips Drive and Northridge Drive poses a hazard during emergencies when fire trucks or other first responders need to get into those neighborhoods quickly.
“The store [Dollar General] is open. I say open it [Phillips Drive] up for 60 days to see how bad it is.”
Residents who want the road to stay open were represented Monday by attorney Wesley Phillips, who grew up on Phillips Drive. Phillips said he has been unable to find legal state or municipal reasons to close the road except for public safety or public works reasons.
“There is no evidence I can find at this time ... that would compel public safety or public works projects,” he said.
He added that if there were public safety issues, residents would need more than one point of ingress and egress.
Other residents who want the road closed cited other reasons.
“I love Dollar General. I have no personal grievance with Dollar General,” said Rick Coley. “It’s inconvenient to those of us who live at the east end of Phillips Drive. We’re changing what we’re used to,” he said, by using the west end of the road “in an effort to keep the neighborhood safe.”
Rosemary Smith, who lives on Phillips Drive, also wants the east side of the road to remain closed because she said many children and elderly people walk on or near the road.
“Two cars cannot pass. If they open the road to more traffic, there’s definitely a safety issue here,” Smith said.
Another resident, William Fields, agreed.
“That road is a one-way road,” he said, adding that there are tracks in his yard as well from cars moving over when meeting oncoming traffic.
Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips said the city closed the road during the construction of Dollar General on the advice of the city attorney, engineers and department heads.
“I think I speak the whole council; we were not in favor of the location of [the new] Dollar General,” Mayor Phillips said. “But they met the codes and regulations of the city.”
He said the city council will consider all of the information it has received and make a decision at an upcoming council meeting.