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Second building plan falls short in Priceville

By By J.W. Greenhill, Hartselle Enquirer
It's strike three for apartment projects in Priceville.
The town council voted 4-1 to deny rezoning a 17-acre parcel of land on Skidmore Road from agricultural use to multifamily residential for apartments, ending two recent attempts to develop multifamily complexes in the community.
The council denied a project proposed by local attorney Hubert Porter last month. Porter was working to develop a gated apartment complex on Highway 67 that drew opposition from the residents of the Cove Creek Crossing subdivision. Porter has indicated he may file a lawsuit in the matter.
The latest development casualty was a $8 million, 56-unit complex proposed by landowner Kirk Brown and Southern Community Builders of Decatur.
Opponents of the Skidmore Road project pointed to statistics indicating apartments tend to suffer from more crime than single family residential neighborhoods and contended that apartments increase traffic, cause flooding, crowd the local schools and ultimately devalue their properties during a public hearing last month.
However, local appraiser Steve Wright of L.B. Wright and Son of Decatur said apartments would meet housing needs for young couples and people over 55 years of age. Apartments and the increased population would also benefit Priceville retailers he said.
Currently, Priceville only has 12 apartment units.
Following the vote Wright said he felt the council voted their conscience even though, "We think what we had to put forward would have been an asset to the community."
Councilman Wayne Dunkin made the motion to deny the rezoning request based on the recommendation of the town planning commission. Councilman Tommy Perry cast the dissenting vote.
"If you are not going to listen to the planning commission, why have them?" Dunkin said.
Frances Love, a planning commission member, said the body considered a variety of factors such as traffic, cost of infrastructure, burden on town services in making its recommendation to deny the rezoning. She indicated the factors were working against the request before the weight of public outcry against the project was considered.
Mayor Melvin Duran said one of the factors opponents cited was not something the town council uses to consider zoning requests.
"We can't worry about overcrowding in the school. That is the county's (school system's) concern. The roads are our responsibility. The safety part is our responsibility.
"Priceville is going to grow and the county had better wake up. They built a school that is already at capacity. When we built the sewer system, we built capacity to serve a community the size of Hartselle," he said.
Duran said he was reminded that Priceville residents don't need to be looking down on person's whose circumstances prevent them from owning or living in a house.
"I had one individual call me this week who reminded me that he remembered when several of us lived in a trailer park and that we made something of ourselves," Duran said.