City of Chelsea is growing again

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven called recent annexations of two proposed subdivisions, slated for some 4,000 residents, a &uot;good opportunity&uot; for the city.

The city has voted during a series of meetings the last several weeks to annex the Little Creek and Chelsea Park subdivisions in five phases.

The two subdivisions on 930 acres along Highway 280, a joint venture between developers Doug Eddleman and Bill Thornton, spurred a &uot;yes&uot; vote of local residents to call for zoning in the previously unzoned Beat 11 area between Chelsea and Westover.

Residents argued the densely populated developments would further crowd Chelsea schools, add traffic and change their rural way of life.

The developers’ plans were tabled by the Shelby County Planning Commission pending results of the successful Beat 11 vote.

Chelsea Park, according to plans submitted to the Shelby County Planning Commission, would add some 1,000 single family homes to 458 acres.

Little Creek, located southeast of Chelsea Park separated by a railroad, would add about 900 homes to 472 acres.

The plans by Thornton and Eddleman call for 42 acres of commercial property fronting Highway 280.

A school site on 24-acres and various park sites on more than 20 acres are also included in the plans.

Niven said the annexations follow much discussion between the developers and the city.

He said the move allows Chelsea to gain much-needed sales tax revenue from the commercial property.

&uot;They came to us. Eddleman and Thornton have been talking to us for over six months about annexing in that area,&uot; Niven said.

&uot;Our main concern as far as annexation is that we want to get as much property on Highway 280 as we can. That is the bread and butter for Chelsea in the coming years.

&uot;Do we want to become a 25- to 30,000 person town? I hope not. I would say Chelsea is going to get up to about 12- to 14,000,&uot; he said.

Niven said the city would continue to annex people who show an interest in becoming a part of Chelsea.

He said the moves also support the &uot;master plan&uot; of Chelsea to &uot;fill in the gaps&uot; between areas.

&uot;The whole city of Chelsea is in a growth spurt,&uot; Niven said.

Councilman Col. John Ritchie agreed with Niven’s vision.

&uot;We are trying to establish Chelsea to maintain the quality of life all of us want,&uot; Ritchie said. &uot;But at the same time we want to get enough people in the town so we have some influence on the votes, both in Shelby County and at the Shelby County Board of Education.&uot;

Niven said Ritchie would serve as the liaison to the board and would keep them informed of additional students added to Chelsea schools.

According to officials from the Board of Education, Chelsea schools are already operating over capacity.

Chelsea Elementary is currently utilizing eight portable classrooms and has four substandard rooms.

Chelsea High School has three substandard rooms, officials said.

Niven said the school site offered by the developers along with two other school sites being considered by the Board of Education &045; one at the Chesser Plantation subdivision in Chelsea and another at MT Laurel &045; would meet the future need for classrooms.

&uot;We are not saying this is just a blessing and there are no negatives,&uot; Niven said. &uot;Growth is coming and we have to work to solve those needs. We have a good relationship with the schools and we support the schools. We will work to keep them abreast to the needs of a development like this.&uot;

Niven noted the Chelsea Park and Little Creek subdivisions were 10-year projects.

Niven also said Chelsea Park would not be referred to as Chelsea Park which will be the name of Chelsea’s new recreational park that is currently under development.

He said the developers have agreed to find another name