VOL. 116 | NO. 187 | Thursday, September 26, 2002
Schools, sewers deciding factor in county expansion
Board contends schools
deciding factor in county growth
By MARY DANDO
The Daily News
The sleepy, historic
community of Lucy, situated between Raleigh-Millington Road and U.S. Highway
51, caused newly elected Shelby County Commission members to flex their
political muscle and vote down a development proposal.
First-time Commissioner Bruce
Thompson, along with Deidre Malone, David Lillard and Joyce Avery, seem to be
sending developers a clear message no more growth approval without a thorough
consideration of its social and economic impact.
Describing the Lucy area as a
test case and a good place to start, Thompson said, as new commissioners,
it was important to set the right note.
Property owner and developer
Michael Alexander sought approval at Mondays meeting to change the mostly
agricultural zoning of 48.7 acres in Lucy to a single-family residential
The development he proposed
for the west side of Amherst Road south of School Road would include between
150 and 170 homes of 1,200 square feet and 2,000 square feet in size, costing
$130,000 to $175,000.
The city-county Office of
Planning and Development and Land Use Control Board recommended approval of the
plan with conditions.
Millington is considering
annexing Lucy and would provide sewer services to the area, said Dave Adams,
OPD principal planner.
The original plans were for
RS-8 (8,000-square-foot minimum lots) and when the developer changed the
request to RS-10, which is similar to another subdivision in the vicinity, OPD
approved the revised plan.
But planners still are
concerned about the possibility of overcapacity at nearby Lucy Elementary
School, Adams said.
Enterprises, Stephen Steinbach of Land Development Solutions said the
development was a good land use and asked commissioners to approve it, to
allow us to move on to the next step.
However, the issue of
capacity overload at Lucy Elementary and schools in other areas where
developments are already in the works is a very real one, said Shelby County
Schools research and planning supervisor Maura Black.
About 3,000 new homes in the
Cordova area already have been approved and, once built, will cause
overcrowding at Mount Pisgah Middle and Macon Hall Elementary schools, where
students already are being accommodated in portable classrooms, she said.
Lucy Elementary is not
currently at full capacity, but a federally funded preschool program takes up
four classrooms, and a possible 170-home development would place about 48 more
students at Lucy, putting the school very near capacity, she said.
Adams said his office has
received about 40 letters and 60 signatures opposing the development. Heading
the letter-writing campaign is Steve Beckham, who was present at Mondays
Beckham owns 86 acres across
from the proposed subdivision and described the development as starter homes.
Although Lucy welcomes development, this is not what they want, he said.
Were not opposed to growth,
but we are opposed to uncontrolled growth.
At issue is the high-density
nature of the proposal, he said.
The community never received
a commitment from the developer concerning the size of houses in the
development, and 1,200 square feet to 2,000 square feet was a wild range,
Those questions are what the
community is concerned about. The real issue that came up was due to the density
of houses. If he had been building 40 houses instead of 174, then the school
issue would not have been such a dramatic problem, he said.
The countys $1.4 billion
debt came into play during the meeting. Commissioner Joe Ford said he supported
the development because it would bring much-needed tax dollars into the
countys coffers when the homes were completed.
We cant turn around and
reject 170 new homes. If we reject it, theyll just move 5 miles up the road to
Fayette County, he said.
Commissioner Michael Hooks
said he would vote against the development because, until the county has
funding, it does not have the ways and means to build schools.
The school issue appeared to
be the deciding factor in other zoning applications before the commission
A request to rezone a 3-acre
tract on the south side of Pleasant Run Road west of Lamar Avenue from
agricultural to light industrial got no opposition. Neither did a plan from
Kemmons Wilson Inc. to build 100 townhouses on the west side of Appling Road
south of Goodlett Farms Parkway, after it was determined it would be an empty
However, a request by Mike
Fahy of Prime Development Group Inc. on behalf of Lee Line Farms to amend an
original planned development to allow 181 single-family homes on the east side
of Houston Levee Road north of Macon Road got a resounding thumbs-down from the
We either allow development
to run rampant or be consistent about the schools. Weve put more kids into the
system without a thought of its impact, Hooks said.
Commissioner Marilyn Loeffel,
who has a child attending school in the area, said this application went to the
heart of the commission.
This speaks to the big
picture, she said.
After the meeting, Fahy said
he was disappointed with the commissioners decision.
It was a complete surprise
and were just considering all of our alternatives right now what else we can
do and if the project is still viable. Its a difficult position for us and for
the County Commission, he said.
Asked about the possibility
of the county imposing impact fees on development, Fahy said it should be
considered only in the context of leveling the playing field.
If theres going to be an
impact fee for residential, there should also be one for commercial. It should
be all or none, he said.