Westover mayor talks town progress

Plans for a 6,200-acre development in Shelby County’s youngest community are still on hold until the nation’s economy improves, but the town has seen several changes over the last few years, said Westover Mayor Mark McLaughlin.

The Pine Mountain Preserve, a 6,270-acre development planned to be constructed off U.S. 280 in Westover, will remain in the planning stages indefinitely, McLaughlin said.

“Unfortunately, the Pine Mountain Preserve is still on hold right now,” McLaughlin said. “They are still doing engineering on the site, but it’s moving at a pretty slow pace right now.”

When completed, the development will add more than 19,000 new homes to the town, which was incorporated in 2001.

Although the Pine Mountain Preserve is on hold, the town is still moving forward with other projects, and has seen some recent changes, the mayor said.

“I anticipate being able to announce a couple of things next week,” McLaughlin said March 17. “And our town has grown a lot. It’s gone from two-and-a-half square miles to more than 20 square miles.”

Part of the town’s recent changes involve the Westover Fire Department, where a January resignation led to a new town fire chief and fire captain.

After former fire chief Tim Honeycutt resigned Jan. 10, the Westover Town Council appointed former fire captain Jeff Muzer as the interim fire chief and promoted Larry Jenkins to fire captain.

Though McLaughlin said he expected to announce new business developments in Westover soon, he said the town could suffer from a recent decision by the Alabama Department of Transportation to halt plans for elevated toll lanes on U.S. 280.

ALDOT recently announced it would not move forward with the elevated lanes between Chelsea and Interstate 459 until city governments along U.S. 280 show public support for the project.

“I saw where they put plans for the elevated lanes on hold, and that was discouraging,” McLaughlin said, noting the lanes could bring more business traffic to Westover. “The traffic is so bad that I won’t shop that way on 280 if I can help it.”