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Town council rezones land for 774-home Priceville subdivision

By Wes Tomlinson

For the Enquirer

PRICEVILLE — Priceville’s rapid residential growth is poised to continue, despite the concerns of some residents, as the Town Council last week unanimously voted to rezone 352 acres to make way for a proposed 774-home subdivision near North Bethel and East Upper River roads.

The council vote put into effect a previous Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation to rezone the property from Agricultural to Planned Development.

Mayor Sam Heflin said the next step is for developer Joey Ceci, president of Huntsville-based Breland Companies, to present a detailed plan for the project to the Planning Commission.

“They’ll approve it or disapprove it, and they’ll make any corrections,” Heflin said. “Then he’ll be ready to start developing infrastructure and start building eventually.”

Ceci said his company is still working on the layout and plat for the first phase of the Nature’s Walk at Wheeler subdivision. He said he would submit the detailed plans to the Planning Commission in July.

The proposed site for the subdivision is near Priceville High, north of East Upper River Road and east of North Bethel Road. Ceci has said the single-family homes’ sale prices will range from $350,000 to $500,000.

Ceci on May 19 met with residents who live on North Bethel Road and East Upper River Road to discuss drainage systems.

“I took the civil engineer out there and we kind of spread out the plans,” Ceci said. “Obviously, (residents’) main concern was drainage and they didn’t want any over

on their property. The way the drainage is set up on our project, if it goes to some areas that we’re leaving green it’ll actually reduce the amount of water that’s on their property.”

Ceci said the residents took him on a tour of their properties and pointed out different areas “they wanted to make sure were addressed and taken care of.” He said he will submit drainage plans to the council.

Eight residents who spoke at a council meeting May 23 said the council was moving too quickly on the project.

“I’m disappointed that they didn’t even give the words that were said (May 23) and at the Planning Commission meeting any consideration,” said David Sharp after the meeting. “It didn’t matter what was said, the cards were already dealt.”

However, Heflin said the town has been focused on improving infrastructure plans to facilitate subdivision development for some time.

“Some people are going to be mad at us and I understand,” Heflin said. “We listened to what they had to say, but people need to realize that we didn’t make this decision in the last two weeks. This has been something we’ve worked on for the last 18 months, updating subdivision regulations, updating zoning ordinances, and updating our 2040 comprehensive plan. We knew these developments would be coming.”

Heflin said he has heard from several residents about their desire for more retail outlets and restaurants. That won’t happen, he said, without more homes.

“If you talk to a restaurant, if you talk to a retail establishment, they look for rooftops to see the number of people within a certain radius,” Heflin said. “Once they find that area, then that’s when they come in.”

Priceville’s population increased 32% between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, rising from 2,658 to 3,512. The planned subdivision would increase the number of homes in Priceville by 48%. The town currently has 1,600 homes, with 1,100 on the sewer system and 500 on septic tanks.