After hours of debate, the Tuscaloosa City Council on Tuesday voted on approving a new Checkers restaurant in West Tuscaloosa.

The packed council meeting featured nearly a dozen residents from West Tuscaloosa pleading with the council to vote no for the proposed Checkers slotted for a location off Stillman Boulevard across the street from Stillman College.

Residents said they’re concerned about safety, noise and a business locating in their residential neighborhood.

After two hours of debate, the council did vote to rezone the property so construction can begin.

Checkers developer Larry Rockwell said the move is great for that part of the city.

“We want the west side to grow,” he said. “To grow like the rest of Tuscaloosa.”

In other City Council news:

The Tuscaloosa City Council approved a $24 million improvement project for Lurleen Wallace Boulevard.

The project includes paving and changes bringing greater pedestrian safety.

Of the funds, $17 million comes from the Alabama Department of Transportation, and around $6 million comes from the city of Tuscaloosa.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department released its 2016 annual report to the council Tuesday evening.

The report shows crime in the city is down since 2009, with the biggest drop coming from fewer burglaries.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said that while the numbers are looking good, the department is short on officers and are working hard on recruiting.

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