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Hartselle housing boom causing growing pains

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you think you have an overcrowding problem now, city school system, get ready for this.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday approved three layout plats for an additional 224 lots in Hartselle.

Two of the developments are near Interstate 65 and a third is near Garner and Salem roads, where city officials are already struggling with traffic issues.

The problem for the commission members is that they can't deny the developments unless they have a legitimate reason, like safety, City Planner Jeremy Griffith said.

Overcrowding in the school system would not qualify as a reason, Griffith said.

"A lot of these developments are going on because of our school system," he said.

Development near Garner Road

The largest of the layout plats the commission approved Tuesday is for 106 lots on 23 acres near Garner Road, developed by Morgan Development Co.

This is in the same area where residents in April tried unsuccessfully to persuade the commission to deny an 88-unit development, which included 15 townhouses. Their concern was traffic.

This 106-lot development will be constructed in phases and will have access from Salem and Barkley Bridge roads.

Project Engineer Lee Greene said this will take some traffic off Garner Road, which the city spent almost $150,000 repairing two years ago.

Councilman Bill Smelser, who serves on the commission, worries about Salem Road's width and its ability to handle heavy construction trucks.

"We know the city is probably going to have to do something about this road," Smelser said.

Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development said Garner Road is handling heavy traffic, but he doesn't know how much more it can endure.

The two developments near I-65 total 118 lots.

John Dumas is developing Heritage Heights, an 89-unit single-family residential project on 19 acres near Alabama 36 and East Byrd Road.

His project has been in the planning stage for almost a year.

"He's in the holding pattern, waiting on city sewer," Greene said.

The council is spending almost $600,000 to bring sewer to the area.

One of the conditions the commission put on Dumas' layout plat requires the developer to stub a street west to Robert Moore's property.

"I don't know if he will go along with that," Greene said.

On the west side of I-65, the commission approved a 19-acre, 29-unit development for Stevie Woodard Jr.

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