MADISON - A petition to build a funeral home on Old Mannsdale Road here was withdrawn Tuesday afternoon, city officials said.

John Pierce had filed an application March 14 to build a Wright & Ferguson Funeral Home and in doing so sought a zoning change from residential estate (RE-A) property to C-2 commercial property.

The property is currently owned by Parkway Pentecostal Church and is across the street from St. Anthony Catholic School. It is also near Twelve Oaks, Ingleside, Windsor Hills and Cedarmont.

Along with C-2 rezoning, the applicant also sought a special exception and a reclassification of Old Mannsdale Road as an arterial road.

Shortly afterwards, nearby residents banded together in opposition of any type of commercial development on that land. This led to the creation of the Madison Citizens for Responsible Development group.

Charles Warwick, a resident of Twelve Oaks Drive, said the group assembled not just because of the funeral home, but any future commercial development in that area.

"We have members from all the surrounding neighborhoods," he said. "MCRD has hundreds of signatures from people opposed to this commercial rezoning of a residential area."

With regard to the funeral home, Warwick said there is plenty of commercial property already on arterial roads in the city.

"There is a reason funeral homes are located on arterial roads," he said. "They create traffic problems. We are not opposed to another funeral home coming to Madison as long as it locates in a commercial area."

Currently, the only funeral home in Madison is the Natchez Trace Funeral Home on Highway 51.

Warwick said he and other residents worried that if one section of land could be rezoned to commercial it could set a precedent for surround undeveloped acreage also zoned RE-A.

"If this residential land is rezoned commercial, there are 25 acres owned by the same entity," he explained. "If 2.4 acres are rezoned right in the middle of the 25 acres, the others will go commercial too.

"This will harm the quality of life and property values of the neighborhood," he continued.

"This is simply not good planning, and we have to think about Madison's long-term sustainability. If the City allows this to happen here, it will open Pandora's Box. It can then happen anywhere."

Pierce, in his application, said the proposed funeral home would be complimentary to the churches and schools in the area since it wasn't a traditional retail commercial operation.