Indian Springs plan met with residents’ opposition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002

A proposed comprehensive plan by Indian Springs city officials continues to be greeted with rabid opposition.

At a standing-room-only public hearing last week at the North Shelby Library, about 25 Indian Springs residents voiced their concerns about the plan. There were about 200 residents in attendance.

If approved by city officials, the plan will serve as a long-range road map for decisions like zoning, road improvements and how to further develop a tax base.

Late last year, city officials hired KPS Group, a Birmingham-based consulting company, to develop the first comprehensive plan for the 12-year-old city.

The city, which has a population of 2,225, is largely residential with a median family income of about $97,000 per year according to the 2000 census. Many residents pride themselves on their large rural lots.

The city, largely operated by volunteers, has a small tax base and does not have a sales tax.

Darrell Meyer of KPS held a meeting last winter during which residents made suggestions for the plan. From those suggestions and others from city officials, he developed a draft which he presented at the meeting last week.

The plan lists suggested land uses as well as discusses the possibility of implementing a sales tax and annexing more property to prevent further encroachment from neighboring cities. The plan also shows Cahaba Valley Road fourlaned and landscaped through the city.

In addition, Meyer proposed that the city seek to develop a Village Center along Highway 119 which, he said, would spur commercial development.

The Village Center has been the most controversial aspect of the plan because many residents oppose any new commercial expansion.

Jerry Templeton, Indian Springs Village Planning Commission Chairman, had to take control of the meeting early on as residents were shouting and asking for answers to their questions.

&uot;There is a large amount of incorrect information out there. This is the first of two, maybe three, public hearings on this issue,&uot; he said. &uot;We do not have unilateral authority to adopt this. It has to be approved by the mayor and council. Then the revised plan will be distributed and there will be three to five more hearings.

&uot;No member of this commission has decided anything.&uot;

Meyer then presented the highlights of the 52-page plan.

&uot;What we are trying to deal with here is a unique place, an island of rural facing an onslaught of suburbia,&uot; he said.

Meyer emphasized that Cahaba Valley Road is not a city street but instead a state thoroughfare.

The road, he said, averages some 15,000 cars a day although its capacity is about 16,000, according to state officials.

&uot;The state wants to widen it but (Indian Springs) has been successful so far at keeping the state at bay,&uot; he said.

Meyer’s proposal on the road also includes two stoplights at the site of the proposed Village Center.

&uot;By 2025, traffic consultants are estimating that this road will have 25,000 vehicles a day,&uot; he said. &uot;Widening is coming (by the state). It is far better to take control of that widening and know what you want.&uot;

Templeton agreed.

&uot;The bottom line is we have no authority over that road. That is a federal and state matter. The only thing we can do is lobby,&uot; he said. If the state chooses to widen it, it is their road.&uot;

As far as the Village Center, which is proposed to be where a car dealership currently sits, Meyer said it would be &uot;less commercial than what is there now.&uot;

&uot;But this fits your lifestyle,&uot; he said.

After Meyer’s presentation, residents were allowed to comment.

Jim Wyatt, a founder of the city, helped organize two earlier unofficial meetings to discuss opposition to the plan.

Wyatt shared his views of the plan at last week’s meeting.

&uot;I just don’t think this is right for Indian Springs, maybe Hoover, but not for us,&uot; he said. &uot;This town does need a plan but get the people within the town and work one out.&uot;

Max Davis called the plan &uot;social engineering.

Karl Marx and Bill Clinton would love it,&uot; he said.

Another resident, Jenny Lusk, expressed her concern as well.

&uot;When we moved here, we expected to be free instead of letting outsiders tell us what to do,&uot; she said referring to Meyer. &uot;This plan should be given much more thought.&uot;

Danny Bentman was one of only a couple of residents to speak in favor of any of the proposals.

&uot;Change is going to come. The state is going to widen (Cahaba Valley Road) … We do need to increase our tax base,&uot; he said.

Ron Luster said Indian Springs was created so that it would not look like the city of Pelham which, he said, has encouraged commercial development aggressively.

&uot;We created a plug here to keep from looking like the other side of Interstate 65,&uot; he said. &uot;I absolutely agree we need a plan and we need to develop a tax base, but it must not be in an intrusive way.&uot;