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Alan Moore cuts a sheet of decking while his partner, Ronnie Minor, waits for it at a townhouse they are building in The Glens at Burningtree in Priceville.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Alan Moore cuts a sheet of decking while his partner, Ronnie Minor, waits for it at a townhouse they are building in The Glens at Burningtree in Priceville.

Keeping pace in Priceville
Developers work to match brisk population growth

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com · 340-2438

PRICEVILLE — Selecting a home site here is similar to reaching for the juiciest grape in an abundant vineyard.

Take your pick on what suits your tastes. With 356 residential lots available in town and in Priceville’s police jurisdiction, in both developing and planned subdivisions, you can be discriminating.

Buoyed by a report from the U.S. Census Bureau that Priceville’s population spurted 45 percent between 2000 and 2006 — making it the seventh fastest growing municipality in Alabama — Mayor Melvin Duran is eager to talk about his town.

The Census Bureau estimates issued Wednesday and published by the State Data Center at The University of Alabama are revealing. They show Priceville’s population climbed sharply during the past six years, from 1,641 in April 2000 to 2,380 by July l, 2006.

Duran is pleased that residential construction is keeping pace to meet requirements for the expected influx of newcomers connected to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission process, as well as for area residents attracted to Priceville.

“There’s such a demand for people who want to move out here,” Duran said. “Some tell me it’s for convenience. I was talking to a resident the other day who lives in Churchill Downs and delivers gas and air bottles for a welding supply company. He said, ‘We’re so close to everything.’ ”

The long-time mayor believes the attraction is much more.

“We have an excellent school system and great recreation,” he said. “Our Fire Department is second to none, and our town employees are the best. They do good work, and they promote Priceville.”

And he has a theory as to why so much land is available for development.

“Many of the properties have been owned by different families over the years,” he said. “The value got so high, I believe some felt it more profitable to sell it than to farm it.”

Guy W. Smith is an example, but the Decatur business owner is a developer who also is retaining a bucolic touch ingrained by his grandfather, Guy H. Smith.

“He took ownership of about 80 acres in the late 1940s or early 1950s,” Smith said. “He raised cattle all his life, and I’m keeping the tradition going.”

Smith is converting 43 acres off Alabama 67, southeast of Priceville Business Center, into Shadow Mountain subdivision, a single-family residential development.

“I’m running about 40 head of cattle on the rest of the property,” he said.

Smith plans to develop Shadow Mountain in two phases, with 42 of the 102 lots in Phase 1.

“Depending on how the market is, we could split into three phases,” he said. “We have a meeting with Priceville’s Technical Review Committee on Monday to finalize drawings and to approve the proposed layout of Phase 1.”

The town has given preliminary approval for 59 lots in another new development, Cobblestone subdivision, on Alabama 67 east of Budget Inn, and final approval for 38 lots in Phase 2 of Cave Springs Cove subdivision off Sunset Acres Road, just east of Priceville Elementary School.

The town has given final approval to 10 remaining lots in Cove Creek Crossing on Alabama 67. Construction continues in Churchill Downs, west of Cove Creek. The town has given final plat approval for 34 lots in Phase 1, 17 lots in Phase 2 and 12 lots in Phase 3, and preliminary approval to 30 lots in Phase 4.

Earl Morris is in partnership with his brothers, Howard and Jack, on building The Glens at Burningtree, a townhouse development on Indian Hills Road, south of Burningtree Meadows subdivision.

“The town gave final approval on 52 lots in Phase 1, and we have broken ground on 45 of them,” he said. “We’ll be getting approval on 60 lots in Phase 2 and hope to start construction around Thanksgiving.”

Those 60 lots are not included in the 356-lot total.

Out in the police jurisdiction off North Bethel Road, the town has given final approval for a 44-lot development, Cypress Cove.

The established Still Meadow Estates subdivision on Alabama 67, also in the police jurisdiction, divided large tracts into smaller lots.

One parcel, consisting of 12 lots, is called Wildwood Place, and a six-lot section is David Birchmeyer Estates. Because infrastructure was already in place, the town had to give only minor plat approval.

Where does Priceville go from here? Duran, always looking ahead, gazed out the window of his office on Marco Drive. He peered to the northeast, past a fresh-cut wheat field to a huge field of corn at North River Road, stretching to North Bethel Road and Cave Springs Road.

“We still have a lot of open space,” he said.

“Without getting out of my chair, I see about 430 undeveloped acres. There’s more development to come.

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