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Hartselle approves residential zoning for Garner Road

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A Planning Commission majority recommended that the City Council rezone 34 acres on Garner Road for a residential development in one of Hartselle's most congested areas.

"By law, there is nothing we can do to deny the request for the subdivision," Councilman Bill Smelser told residents who opposed the development Tuesday morning.

Smelser is the council representative on the commission. The council will hold a public hearing on the subdivision May 8 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

He explained that the commission's vote was a recommendation to the council. Smelser abstained.

For nearly 30 minutes, three homeowners, who reside on or near Garner Road, pleaded with the commission to deny Realtor Bill Camp's application to rezone the property from agricultural 1 to residential 1.

City Planner Jeremy Griffith said Camp is purchasing the property from Margarue Garner and plans an 88-unit subdivision that includes 15 townhouses.

"I'm not opposed to growth, but I'm worried about traffic and drainage in the area," Charles Golden of Melissa Circle told the commission.

Bobby Garner has lived on Garner Road 45 years.

"My concern is 88 homes on 34 acres," he said. "There's not another subdivision like this in Hartselle. I'm worried about it being overloaded."

Gina Lance, who lives on Garner Road, expressed concerns about how the homes are platted.

"Are you requiring them to put up a fence or trees so I won't have to look into someone's backyard?" she asked.

"We have no subdivision regulation that requires that," Griffith answered.

Commission members have discussed many of the concerns residents stated at Tuesday's public hearing for at least two years.

Because of traffic concerns, the commission tried in July 2005 to delay Hampton Manor, a 50-unit development in the area.

The first vote on the project failed. To comply with state law, the commission had to give a reason for denying the application. The body said traffic. City attorney Larry Madison has told the commission it can't deny developments solely because of traffic. The commission took a second vote and approved engineering plans for the development.

"That's a problem we have," Smelser said. "If someone is in the city limits, and they want to do a residential development, we can't deny them that privilege."

In 2006, the city spent $142,000 widening and resurfacing Garner Road, but this didn't alleviate traffic problems.

"I had problems getting onto Garner Road to come here this morning," Golden said.

Garner is a narrow road that primarily served farms until development started in the area. In the past 12 years, especially since the nearby elementary school opened, this has been the fastest developing area in Hartselle.

Since 1989, city records show that developers have constructed almost 300 homes that drivers access from Garner Road.

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