The Meridian City Council is taking aggressive steps to address a controversial concern.
It voted three to two Tuesday in favor of implementing a moratorium on the issuance of commercial building permits within the historic midtown district. The measure to halt permits in the historic Poplar Springs District was supported by council members Bobby Smith, Jesse Palmer, Sr. and Mary Perry.
Upset business owners within the area, and even the mayor are vowing to take action.
The affected area includes 100 blocks starting at the Anderson Cancer Center and going behind apartments off North Hills Street.
Several business owners, including one company that recently secured a lease to reopen the former Midtown Grill say the moratorium is unfair.
"Not only are you placing an undue burden on people who've done projects already and currently own property, but now we can't open a business that would be accessed at a higher tax rate and get the city back tax money," said Angie Barker of Meridian Downtown Development.
The affected area is in Ward 5 councilman Bobby Smith's district.
"I don't feel like they'll be punished because this is only temporary and we just want to be able to control what goes on in the historic district," said Smith.
"Well, even temporarily, how long do you tell people they cannot build inside the city of Meridian? That's not a good thing," said Dr. George Thomas, Ward 1 councilman.
City leaders and residents in the area say what prompted the vote was a recent push to build a Dollar General store within the district.
"We just want to have control over what the building looks like. We just don't want a metal building there. I think if we can get something designed for the historic district we'll be O.K."
Stressing that she's willing to work with residents in the area, Mayor Cheri Barry is vowing to veto the moratorium.
"This property that is in question has been zoned as a commercial piece of property for over 30 years," said Barry. "The owners have been paying tax dollars on that property, commercial tax dollars for the last thirty years. So, for the government to step in and tell them what they can and what they cannot do with their property is not the role of the government."
Within the next month Smith says he's hopeful that city officials can lift the moratorium and come up with a long-term solution to solve the problem.
Supporters of the moratorium want a new plan to raise the required standards for commercial building permits in the Poplar Springs District.