Helena officials approve 1,250-acre subdivision

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Helena Planning and Zoning Commission gave its seal of approval to a 1,255-acre subdivision plan last Thursday night with a 6-1 vote.

The approved plan, called Hillsboro North, was the third part of a three-part development project by USS Real Estate that already includes the Hillsboro subdivision (800 acres, 1,400 homes) and Hillsboro South (1,530 acres, 3,100 homes).

Those plans were approved in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

The commission sent the plan to the Helena City Council for approval at the council’s Sept. 6 meeting. The proposed plan for Hillsboro North and South would be constructed during a 20- to 30-year span and would include nearly 6,500 homes and an increase of nearly 19,000 residents to the city of Helena, officials said.

Much of Hillsboro North’s construction could be focused around the building of the new Helena bypass and the widening of Alabama Highway 261.

City officials said construction on the proposed bypass should begin in 2006.

Darrell Miller, a representative from KPS group, which designed and engineered the entire Hillsboro plan, listed a number of stipulations and compromises that had been developed between the city and KPS during an Aug. 11 work session.

These compromises included:

* No building of apartments for at least five years or until Alabama Highway 261 is fit to support traffic from the new subdivision.

* An impact fee of $700 per single-family unit that would fund a proposed recreational area along the Helena Greenway and a fire station.

* Protection of both the Cahaba River and Buck Creek using natural buffers averaging 200 feet.

* No entry from the Royal Oak subdivision in Pelham and primary entry off

Alabama 261 or the proposed bypass.

Residents at the meeting voiced concerns that the new subdivision would make an already bad traffic problem in the Helena area even worse.

“Everytime we have a subdivision come up, we have the problem of traffic,” Commissioner Billy D. Harris said in response to the residents’ concerns.

Commissioner George Lystlund also mentioned that curbing the development of subdivisions in Helena would not solve the traffic problem; because most of the traffic was traveling from Montevallo and Pelham areas.

“The traffic is definitely a Helena concern, but its not coming out of Helena,” Lystlund said. “It’s just something that Helena is going to have to deal with.”

Commissioner Robert Caliento had the sole dissenting vote in the commission’s approval of the plan