Planning Commission denies rezoning for new neighborhood

Bob Easley with the Alabama Engineering Company discusses a proposed garden home development in Pelham. The Pelham Planning Commission failed to pass a rezoning request to allow the neighborhood to move forward during its Jan. 9 meeting. (File)

Bob Easley with the Alabama Engineering Company discusses a proposed garden home development in Pelham. The Pelham Planning Commission failed to pass a rezoning request to allow the neighborhood to move forward during its Jan. 9 meeting. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham Planning Commission failed to pass a rezoning request to allow a proposed new 62-house garden home development off Shelby County 261 during a Jan. 9 meeting.

During the Jan. 9 meeting, the Planning Commission was split by a vote of 3-3 on rezoning more than 21 acres off Indian Lake Drive from agricultural to a residential garden home district to allow Harris Doyle Homes to move forward with constructing the new subdivision. Because the Planning Commission did not gather a majority in favor of the rezoning, the matter failed to pass.

Planning Commission members Bob Sinclair, Kim Speorl and Mayor Gary Waters voted in favor of the rezoning, while Karyl Rice, Mildred Lanier and Claude Peacock voted against.

The Planning Commission’s decision came after it held its second public hearing on the proposed development. During the public hearing, which drew about 25 Pelham residents – most of whom were from neighborhoods along Shelby County 261 – voiced concerns about frequent flooding in the area and said they were worried about increased traffic on Shelby County 261 as a result of the new neighborhood.

Pelham leaders currently are waiting to hear from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the status of a grant the city is seeking to help improve drainage along Shelby County 261.

Lanier, the Planning Commission chairperson, said she would not be comfortable voting to rezone the property to accommodate the new subdivision until the city learns the status of the flood mitigation grant.

“There are serious concerns in my mind about this project,” Lanier said. “We want growth, but we have to think about our neighbors.

“We do not know the timeframe for FEMA,” Lanier added. “We can’t even guarantee our Stratford neighbors will be safe.”

On Dec. 12, the Planning Commission requested Harris Doyle Homes to fund a hydrology study of the proposed development’s impact on drainage in the area. During the Jan. 9 Planning Commission meeting, Alabama Engineering Company representative Bob Easley presented the findings of the study.

According to Easley, an oversized retention pond in the proposed neighborhood would have decreased the amount of water flowing from the development’s property downstream to other neighborhoods by about 40 percent.

Lanier and Waters encouraged Harris Doyle Homes President Brooks Harris to revamp their plans and bring them back to the Planning Commission for consideration at a later meeting.

“Please do not think this is over,” Lanier told Harris.