"Olde Town is a well established downtown neighborhood," resident Linda Denham said.
Denham said Olde Town residents have been struggling to maintain the area as residential since 1997.
"It started with the Choate house on the corner of Bartow and Leake streets," she said. "They wanted to put a business there, but when a business moves in, homeowners move out."
The Olde Town historic district includes the areas of West, Boatner and South avenues; Etowah Drive; Luckie, South Bartow, Skinner, Alexander, Oak, South Erwin, Neel, Leake and Cook streets; and Green Ives Lane.
In this situation, the homeowners at 119 South Ave. wish to convert their home into a special purpose area where people could have wedding ceremonies and small gatherings. During a September city council meeting, Russell and Audrey Hawkinson, the homeowners applying for a rezoning, addressed concerned neighbors and the council by clarifying his vision for the property.
"We're not going to be having a keg party," Audrey Hawkinson said. "We will be at the house at all times. This is our home -- we live there."
Attorney for the Hawkinson's, Peter Olson, said that the historical preservation committees encourage turning historical homes into special purpose gathering areas.
"They're not going to be throwing a fraternity party," Olson said. "And there is ample room for parking."
Even though the Hawkinsons insist the situations would not get out of control, neighbors are concerned for the safety of children, traffic volume on the road and noise.
"We've got to be vigilant to protect the neighborhood," Denham said. "Some neighbors [who agreed to allow this may not have understood] the ramifications, but they do now. When those cars come out of the driveway at 10, 11, 12 o'clock at night, their headlights are going to be shining right into a home. It's just not compatible for those reasons."
Denham noted that the council has not allowed homes in the historic area to become businesses.
"The council has approved many times to keep the neighborhood stable," she said. "And this is just one more time we're saying this does not fit into a stable neighborhood ... this is not an appropriate means of use for a single-family dwelling."
The city council will vote on the issue at their meeting tonight at 7 in the council chambers of city hall where the floor will be opened for a second public hearing for parties on both sides of the issue to share their viewpoints.