Alabaster considering housing moratorium along Highway 119

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – New housing developments along the Alabama 119 corridor could come to a stop for a set amount of time, as the Alabaster City Council is considering a temporary moratorium on the construction of new neighborhoods along the high-traffic corridor.

During an Aug. 21 work session, council members said they are considering the moratorium in an effort to prevent further traffic congestion on Alabama 119 and the roads feeding into it in southern Alabaster.

The council is set to vote on the moratorium during its Aug. 27 meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at Alabaster City Hall.

The discussion about the moratorium arose while council members were discussing a rezoning request for a proposed new 132-home development near the intersection of Butler Road and Mission Hills Road.

The rezoning request came from Raush Coleman Builders and Alamerica Bank, which currently owns the property and has plans to sell it to the developer, according to information submitted to the city.

If the rezoning is approved by the council, it will pave the way for the new development connected to the Grande View Gardens neighborhood. A subdivision plan would still have to be approved by the city before the new development could move forward.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted in June to recommend the city rezone the property, but the council will make the final decision during its Aug. 27 meeting.

Under the current mixed use zoning for the property, a developer would be able to build 55 single-family homes, 104 townhomes and about 40,000 square feet of commercial space. The 132 proposed garden homes under the requested R-4 zoning would be similar to the existing homes in the Grande View Gardens subdivision, according to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

During the Aug. 21 work session, council members expressed concern with approving future housing developments along the 119 corridor until the status of a project to widen the road to four lanes is more concrete.

In early August, the city applied for an up-to-$25-million grant from the United States Department of Transportation to help offset the higher-than-expected cost of completing the widening project south of the 119-Fulton Springs Road intersection.

If passed, the moratorium will prohibit most new residential development along 119 and the major roads connecting to it south of Fulton Springs Road for a certain period of time to allow the city to address the traffic congestion in the area. Council members likely would put the moratorium in place for a year.

“We need to be a little more thoughtful with what we approve in that area,” said Ward 5 Councilman Russell Bedsole. “We are trying to push for the 119 (widening) project, and because of a situation out of our control, it has stalled. We need to watch out for the people who are living there now.”

“I want to stop (housing development) until I know what 119 is going to do,” added Council President Scott Brakefield.

City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said other cities, such as Fairhope, have passed similar moratoriums recently on residential development to allow more time to study and address traffic concerns.

“If we pass this, I think it sends a message to ALDOT that this is really an issue, and we are willing to halt development until we can get the traffic situation fixed,” said Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon.