In Indian Springs, new residential lots to be three acres or morePublished 10:50pm Tuesday, August 16, 2011
By AMY JONES / Associate Editor
INDIAN SPRINGS — The Indian Springs town council passed a controversial ordinance requiring new residential lots in Indian Springs to be at least three acres at a meeting Aug. 16.
Before the passage, residential lots were only required to be one acre or larger. The ordinance’s detractors say residents who own larger lots now have less flexibility if the residents decide to subdivide their lots and sell part of the land.
Supporters say the ordinance will help control increased traffic and major flooding problems due to runoff from houses onto neighboring properties.
Council member Herb Robins said he believes increasing required lot sizes is a common sense, simple way to reduce runoff. He said although Indian Springs benefits from having professionally engineered roads and infrastructure, flooding still happens, even on major roads such as Alabama 119.
“All I can see is that we cannot engineer ourselves out of every problem,” he said.
Laverne Ramsey, who owns just under nine acres of land in Indian Springs, said she considers her land to be a financial asset and is worried about the effect of the change in required lot sizes. With the three-acre requirement, she can only subdivide her land into two large lots instead of several smaller lots.
“I was just appalled when I found out how much power this council has, and I hope you will use it carefully,” Ramsey said before the ordinance’s passage.
City engineer Frazier Christy said he will encourage town officials to continue looking at other ways to limit runoff, such as setting rules dictating how much of a residential lot can be developed.
Mountain Brook’s ordinances allow residents to build upon as much as 30 percent of each residential lot, leaving 70 percent as undeveloped land, he said.
Council member Jack Mendel said the ordinance was revised to allow current landowners, even those with lot sizes of less than three acres, the ability to build on those lots.
For example, if an Indian Springs resident owns one acre of land, and that resident’s house is destroyed in a fire, the resident has the right to rebuild the house, even though the lot isn’t three acres in size, he said.
Responding to a citizen’s assertion that the ordinance was not passed within a required 90-day period from its introduction, Mayor Steve Zerkis said the town council would check to ensure the ordinance had been passed through the correct procedure.
The ordinance passed by a vote of 4-2. Zerkis, Mendel, Robins and Brenda Bell-Guercio voted in favor of the ordinance, while Brian Stauss and Stewart Dudley voted against it.