Town home development planned for Upper Road

Bayne Hughes, The Decatur Daily, Ala.
·5 min read

Mar. 25—A proposal to build 80 to 100 town homes off Upper River Road would promote the Decatur priority of residential growth, but neighbors of both that project and a downtown development raised objections this week.

Evergreen Living is working on the plans for a semi-attached residential home development on 28 acres owned by Adam Davidson at the intersection of Upper River and Deere roads in Southeast Decatur, said Blake McAnally, of Pugh Wright McAnally Engineering Services.

The Evergreen development is in the same area where two single-family home subdivisions and another town home development are under construction off Old River Road.

"We're still working on the plans and there's been several rough drafts, so we're not sure yet how many will be built," McAnally said after this week's city Planning Commission meeting.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend rezoning the 28 acres from AG-1, agriculture, to R-6, semi-attached residential homes.

The City Council has the final approval on all rezonings.

The residents living near Evergreen Living's planned development aren't happy with the project, but they told the Planning Commission they understand the city's need for new homes.

Johnie Vincent, who has lived on Upper River Road with her husband Frank since 1992, wrote in an email that she's "not delusional" enough to think the city would stop the town home development since the land was bought for residential development.

"Special places like this should be on the endangered list and are heading toward extinction," Vincent wrote. "Whatever wildlife live in the pasture behind our home would agree. I wish I could search the property and find a plant or insect or anything that is endangered that would stop development but I can't. I wouldn't recognize it if I saw it.

"Like I said, I don't expect the outcome to change, but I wanted you to know how sad some of us are to be losing the special quality of this area that we have so grown to love."

Robert Couey lives on 5 acres off Indian Hills Road and the east side of his property is adjacent to Evergreen's planned development. He said residential development is better than more business development.

Across the street to the west of Couey's home is the Point Mallard Centre, anchored by a Publix grocery store that opened in early 2018. Couey said the center's developers never added a tree line on the rear of the property to shield Indian Hills Road residents from the shopping center.

"We are concerned," Couey said. "Instead of semi-attached homes, we wish they were building single-family homes because we've invested a lot in our homes."

McAnally said after the meeting that there's a wetland of roughly 3 acres between the Evergreen development and Couey and his neighbors' properties that the project would leave untouched.

"That's as long as at least two football fields of a natural buffer," McAnally said. — Advocates for project

Proponents of residential growth also sent emails to the Planning Commission. Kim Hallmark, Realtor for Re/MAXX Platinum, wrote that the city needs the town homes on Upper River Road.

Hallmark wrote that the "perfect storm of north Alabama economic growth and little to no significant residential development during the entire 30 years I've lived here and the current historically low interest rates has created our current inventory crisis."

She said the city has fewer than 50 homes on the market in Decatur.

"This is a crisis level because our five-year average is 400," Hallmark wrote.

Miracle Osborne, a local human resources professional who served on the One Decatur comprehensive plan steering committee, said in an email to the commission that the need for quality residential housing was a goal of the comprehensive plan.

"Increasing the housing inventory within our city will continue to help us accomplish our One Decatur plans and drive good and much-needed growth within our community," Osborne wrote. — Downtown town homes

The Planning Commission also approved the layout for the plat on the McGhee Square Town Homes planned for Walnut and Vine streets in Old Decatur.

The commission continued to get more opposition to this development on the edge of the city's Historic District and near Bank Street Northeast. Several neighbors wanted to know why the developers would pack 18 town homes and parking into the project's 0.61 of an acre.

"I don't mind that it's going there," said Tracy Lundy, of Canal Street Northeast. "It still feels a little crowded like maybe there should be less of them."

Sherry Barnett, of Walnut Street, agreed, saying trying to put 18 units in this small area makes it too dense.

"Trying to put 18 units plus parking in that amount of area is just too much," Barnett said. "Plus, you're already taking away from the historic district."

McAnally, who is also doing the engineering on the McGhee project, said the developer chose 18 town homes "to make the project financially viable. The architect has a footprint that he believes is marketable, and then it becomes a geometry problem and a need to make the accommodations, like parking and sidewalks, accessible."

Decatur native Steve Armistead out of Brentwood, Tennessee, who is leading the development of McGhee Square, said he expected work to begin on the project the first week of May. — Other items

—Family Security Credit Union is planning to build a branch office at 1852 Beltline Road S.W., and the commission approved the consolidation of parcels of 1.059 and 1.015 acres into a single parcel of 2.067 acres.

The new office on the northeast corner of Beltline Road and Carridale Street will replace a medical office, which will be demolished, next to Parkway Medical Center.

McAnally said the credit union's existing office behind the nearby Decatur Mall would remain open for administrative offices after the new branch opens.

—The Planning Commission approved a redevelopment site plan for The Body Shop on Third Avenue Southeast so the business can add an addition to the building.

bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.