The Athens City Council had eight different public hearings on its agenda during Monday's meeting, the largest of which dealt with a large proposed development on Cambridge Lane.
Multiple citizens and Council members alike shared questions, comments and concerns over the proposed development during the meeting.
The Council received a request to rezone around 234 acres of property owned by Newby Farms on the east side of Cambridge Lane south of French Mill Creek from EST-Estate Residential and Agricultural District to a R-1-3 High Density Single Family Residential District.
A potential plan is in place to put a 700-home development on the property. The area is near the upcoming Greenbrier Parkway project and looks to attract future residents who will soon be working for Mazda Toyota Manufacturing and other businesses that are expanding in Limestone County.
According to Council member Wayne Harper, no votes were taken on the public hearings at the meeting at the behest of City Attorney Shane Black due to a legal issue, so any rezoning ordinances will be voted on at the next meeting on Sept. 27.
City Planner Matt Davidson said there are other properties in the area with similar zoning, both R-1-1 and R-1-3. He said services provided by the City of Athens are sufficient to cover the proposed development.
Council member Harold Wales asked Davidson if there would be sufficient entrances and exits to the planned subdivision. Davidson said there is one entrance and exit planned for Cambridge Lane as well as three other stubs that could be entrance/exit points in a nearby developed subdivision the new development would attach to.
Wales also had concerns about the increase in traffic at the intersection of Cambridge Lane and U.S. 72.
Davidson said the Alabama Department of Transportation has plans to make safety improvements to the intersection and even has money in place for the project, but no finalized plans have been made at this time.
Mayor Ronnie Marks echoed that, saying he and Director of Public Works James Rich have met with ALDOT “on many occasions” to discuss improvements to that intersection.
Taz Morell, owner of Morell Engineering, spoke on behalf of the Newby family during the public hearing. He said there were other subdivisions in the area with similar zoning already, and the land already has access to the City's sewer system thanks to an easement granted by the family to service the Old Stone subdivision.
Morell said the main idea behind the proposed development is to cater to those workers and their families that job growth is bringing to the area in and around Athens.
Several individuals got up to speak on the proposed development during the public comment portion of the hearing.
Many had concerns over issues like safety of children and others due to the increase in traffic, the congestion that traffic increase would bring, how dangerous the Cambridge Lane and U.S. 72 intersection is and why the new subdivision needs to be high density.
Several of them said they were not opposed to growth and new homes being built in Athens but questioned why there had to be some many lots put in one development.