Alabaster denies zoning for proposed neighborhood

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Citing concerns about increased traffic and location, the Alabaster Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously on Jan. 24 to deny a pre-zoning request to allow for a proposed new neighborhood to move forward in northwestern Alabaster.

If the pre-zoning request would have been approved, it would have paved the way for about 65 acres north of Arrow Drive to be zoned for R2 residential if it is annexed into the city in the future. The property currently is in unincorporated Shelby County.

The commission originally discussed the pre-zoning in late October, and tabled the matter until its December meeting to allow the developer, Jason Spinks, to present a conditional overlay plan for the proposed neighborhood. Citing a scheduling conflict with the developer, the commission continued the matter until the Jan. 24 meeting.

As originally proposed, the new neighborhood called for about 99 home lots and 36 percent green space on the currently vacant tract of land. However, Spinks reduced the total number of lots to 76 and increased the green space to 40 percent following the October meeting, during which several nearby residents and commission members voiced concerns.

The new neighborhood plan would have been accessible by Arrow Drive and Independence Drive.

If the pre-zoning would have been approved by the commission, it would have moved on to the City Council for final consideration. Spinks can now appeal the commission’s denial to the City Council or bring a new request to the commission in the future.

If Spinks’ pre-zoning request is approved by the commission and City Council in the future, he will still be required to have the neighborhood’s final design approved by the city before any construction could proceed.

The commission’s vote to deny the pre-zoning request came after an about 45-minute public hearing on the matter, during which nine residents voiced opposition to the new neighborhood. About 55 residents attended the meeting, nearly all of who applauded each person who spoke against the proposed development.

“My family has four kids, and they have a safe place to play right now,” said Ryan Richardson, who lives on Arrow Drive. “My concern is the increased traffic. That’s a lot of cars coming through my property.

“If this neighborhood is built, it’s going to create anther thoroughfare,” Richardson added. “I’m very concerned about what will happen on Arrow Drive.”

Fellow Arrow Drive resident Ernie Green, who also spoke against the proposed neighborhood during the October hearing on the matter, echoed his neighbor’s sentiments.

“I think you would be doing the future residents of Alabaster a disservice by annexing this into the city,” Green said. I don’t think the traffic has really been addressed. All the extra cars, school buses and emergency vehicles is going to be crazy.”

Planning and Zoning Commission member Tommy Ryals said the neighborhood would help to fill a “mid-range” gap in the city’s housing market, but said he was concerned about the development’s location.

“I think the development itself would add to the property values of the surrounding properties, but I don’t think this is the best spot to put these mid-range houses,” Ryals said. “It’s not close to a major roadway corridor. There’s just no good way in or out.”