Rushing Farms development to be reconsidered by Planning Commission

NORTH SHELBY – A rezoning of 63 acres of land near the intersection of Caldwell Mill Road and Indian Crest Drive in North Shelby County will go back before the Shelby County Planning Commission for further consideration.

The Planning Commission at its Feb. 4 meeting approved a rezoning request for the proposed Rushing Farms subdivision, but the Shelby County Planning Review Board voted unanimously at a hearing on Tuesday, March 12, for the Planning Commission to reconsider its initial decision.

The Review Board’s vote was met with an ovation by residents of the area who attended the hearing in opposition of the rezoning, which would allow for smaller lot sizes than the property’s current zoning of E-1, which requires lot sizes of at least 1 acre.

The Planning Commission approved rezoning the property to E-2 Special District, and the site plan called for 63 lots on 63 acres, with an average lot size less than 1 acre because of the inclusion of green spaces, buffers along two edges of the development and two detention ponds to control stormwater runoff.

But residents argued there is no justification for granting Special District designation to the property, the planned lots would not be compatible with neighboring lots, the Planning Commission meeting was not held in an orderly fashion, the Commission did not address residents’ concerns and the Commission made its decision based on inaccurate information.

“This rezoning benefits only one landowner,” said Mary Bahri, one of the three residents who requested a hearing by the Review Board.

“There are no E-2 lots surrounding the property,” added Mary Frances Cull, another of the residents who requested the hearing. “They are all 1 acre and larger.”

Residents also think the development would add to already existing problems with traffic and stormwater runoff in the area, they said.

Brooks Harris, representing developer Harris Doyle Homes, and Bob Easley of Alabama Engineering Company pointed to their effort in planning a development that would be compatible with neighboring properties and addressing stormwater runoff with detention ponds that would yield less runoff after development than is currently experienced at the site.

“We’re trying to go above and beyond the minimum,” Easley said.

But the Review Board ultimately had too many concerns about the proposal.

“When you start adding lots, the community really ought to get something great out of it,” said Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole, who is a member of the Board along with Michael Cain, Brandon Hamilton, Christie Pannell-Hester and Chad Scroggins—all county employees. “I’m not seeing great here.”

Shelby County Commissioner Lindsey Allison, whose district includes the property and the surrounding area, said she thought granting a Special District solely to include more lots would be unprecedented, and said runoff is a common problem that might be exacerbated with the addition of more lots.

“I have profound concern about this development,” Allison said.

The developer will now decide whether to submit the same rezoning request to the Planning Commission or a redesigned plan. Whichever plan is to be considered by the Commission will be advertised in advance of the hearing, which has not yet been set.