As the planned Morris family subdivision, River Road Manor, marches through the city of Decatur’s approval process, some of its neighbors remain unhappy with the plans.
Two Old River Road residents were unsuccessful this week in getting the Decatur Planning Commission to require a change to the proposed subdivision plat in Southeast Decatur.
The commission voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to the plat that subdivides 19.77 acres off Old River Road into 56 single-family residential lots.
Howard Morris said now the development lacks only final approval of the subdivision plat, which he expects to occur in February so the construction can begin in March.
The Morris family gained an additional lot with the new plan. City Planner Karen Smith said Morris and its engineer, Pugh, Wright, McAnally Engineering Services, have several things to do before the plat will get final approval. A street to the north that will connect with any future phase "will need to be moved 200 or 300 feet to the north" because of the topography of the property.
Smith said her department also wants a schedule of the building phases and a list of the street names.
Construction will begin with building the roads and sidewalks and preparing each of the sites.
As part of a deal with the city, the Morris family annexed the property into Decatur and agreed to build at least 40 homes. In return, the city will spend $1 million on a 3,800-foot sewer extension from Alabama 67 to the Morris development.
“We hope we can be ready to start construction of the homes by July, but it depends on people (contractor and subcontractors) and the weather,” Morris said. “In the summertime, it usually takes about three months to build a house.”
Morris said the homes can be between 1,800 and 3,000 square feet. He hasn’t set list prices yet, but he expects them to be over $180,000.
Old River Road resident John Jenson asked the Planning Commission on Tuesday to reject the proposed plat for River Road Manor because one of the entrances “runs right by my bedroom.”
Jenson also requested that the commission require a buffer between the new homes.
Old River Road resident David Hughes said he doesn’t object to the subdivision and its lot layout, but he asked the Planning Commission to require larger lot sizes in the new subdivision to match the homes already in the area.
Hughes said he wants Morris to go ahead and connect the ingress/egress street in the subdivision to Deere Road to cut down traffic congestion and make it easier for firetrucks to enter the subdivision.
Planning Commission Chairman Kent Lawrence answered the two men’s suggestions. He said the property’s owner can select the lot sizes he prefers, and the commission isn’t going to require a buffer between residential properties.
Lawrence said the property owner doesn’t have access to Deere Road, so he can't extend the subdivision road to Deere Road.
After returning to his seat, Hughes accused the Planning Commission of having closed minds and being unwilling to go against the developer. Lawrence invited him to come back up the microphone and talk, but he refused.
“It wouldn’t do us any good,” Hughes said.