Growing up quickly: Montevallo deals with pains of rapid expansion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2006

City officials have agreed on a plan to accommodate growth in Montevallo &8212; at least in one neighborhood.

While development continues on the heels of an expired moratorium to halt growth in one of Shelby County&8217;s most historic and picturesque communities, city leaders are prepared to have raw sewage pumped from a manhole near new houses occupied before the city can extend its sewer system to meet them.

The plan would only need to be put into place if houses in the Hidden Forest and Colonial Oaks subdivisions are built and occupied before the city&8217;s planned sewer expansion project can accomodate them, but city engineer Ben Carr said that scenario is &8220;very likely.&8221;

In that case, the city would have to contract the services of an outside company to carry the sewage by pumper truck to the nearest sewer connection point.

Carr called the situation unique, but some members of the city council think it&8217;s indicative of a bigger problem, one that has had the council at odds over the city&8217;s future growth, resulting in two split votes to continue a four-month development moratorium that expired in late December.

&8220;I think it&8217;s a prime example of where we are right now,&8221; said councilmember Hollie Cost.

&8220;We want responsible growth,&8221; she said. &8220;We don&8217;t want growth that will drain our existing infrastructure.&8221;

That was the basis for the development moratorium passed by the council in August, Cost said, which was designed to halt new development until the city could prepare for future growth.

&8220;We passed it because we didn&8217;t have a formal plan for the development that&8217;s coming our way,&8221; Cost said.

&8220;We wanted to make sure that we were prepared financially and that we had all of our zoning ordinances in place.&8221;

Cost was one of three council members who voted on two separate occasions to extend the moratorium, citing the lack of a formally drafted comprehensive plan.

Mayor Sharon Anderson&8217;s votes against continuing the moratorium forced a tie in both votes, causing the motion to fail.

Repeated attempts to reach Anderson for comment by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Montevallo&8217;s planning and zoning board will serve as the control over future development in the city.

Anderson has faced recent scrutiny for a possible conflict of interest concerning her relationship to developer Sue Wilder White.

At their last regular meeting, White asked the council not to appoint any new members to planning and zoning board who previously signed a petition against her 800-home Providence development project, which was originally scheduled to come before the board before the moratorium was passed in August.

Anderson is a long-time associate of White and the two shared an investment club relationship, according to media reports.

The Providence project was scheduled to come before the planning and zoning board tomorrow night, but has been postponed.

Cost said she remains optimistic that the council can reach a middle ground on the issue.

&8220;I plan on addressing this issue at future council meetings,&8221; Cost said. &8220;I don&8217;t see this going off the agenda anytime soon.&8221;