County approves plans for 3,000-home village

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Shelby County Planning Commission on Monday approved the master plan for Chimney Rock, a 3,000-home development along Oak Mountain near Dunnavant.

Developers say their proposal, the first under Shelby County&8217;s new subdivision regulations to use the form-based model, will focus on densely developed core areas and leave up to half of the 1,650-acre tract undeveloped.

The planning commission voted 5-1 to approve the plan, contingent on the construction of a road connecting the project to Alabama 119.

Future approval of the plan now hinges on the ability of the developer, Ridgeview Development LLC, to secure the right of way to build a connecting road across property owned by the Birmingham Water Works.

Opposition to the development centered on increased traffic on nearby County Road 41, Alabama 25 and U.S. 280. Preliminary estimates show it would cause an addition of nearly 30,000 new vehicle trips per day by the time the project is complete.

Adversaries also voiced concern over preserving the watershed area for nearby Lake Wehapa and the Cahaba River.

Terry Reagin, who owns property on Adams Road, asked the commission to remember nearby landowners, should the plan pass despite the opposition.

&8220;Typically, the people who are going to move in here don&8217;t want to see our old bulldozers and our old dogs,&8221; Reagin said. &8220;Well, we were here first.&8221;

Shoal Creek developer Hall Thompson said he was not opposed to the plan, provided the right of way issue could be worked out with the Water Works for a roadway to 119.

Thompson said the Mt Laurel development also caused apprehension during its planning stages, but turned out to be a &8220;real asset&8221; to the county.

Among the proposed amenities of Chimney Rock are walkable village areas complete with open parks and scenic areas, said Ridgeview representative Jackie Davis.

The development would also feature a strict &8220;village code&8221; to guide architecture and landscaping, Davis said.

Before any construction can begin, a &8220;regulatory plan&8221; for the development must be approved by the planning commission, said planner Sharman Brooks. That step involves a complete traffic study and more detailed engineering