Valley rezones 275-acres

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, January 10, 2024

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VALLEY — In its first meeting of the new year, the Valley City Council on Monday held a second reading of and approved a request to rezone a 275-acre site near Combs Road and Fairfax Bypass from R-2 (medium density residential) to PRD-3 (planned single-family attached and detached residential district).

The action was approved in a 6-1 vote with Council Member Jim Jones being in opposition. Following the meeting, Jones told The Valley Times-News that he was concerned about a tract of land that large carrying this designation. “It would allow a developer to build houses only 10 feet apart,” he said. “I have seen how crowded this is in Opelika.”

PRD is usually for tracts of land around 100 acres in size. Jones said he was concerned that the site in question is well more than that at 275 acres. Jones said he wants everyone to know he supports the city’s planning commission. “I was on it for 25 years,” he said.

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Planned residential zoning is a mechanism that allows for flexibility in the grouping, placement, size and use of structures on a fairly large tract of land. A PRD is developed as a single entity using a public process that incorporates design review.

The land is south of Combs Road and is owned by the city. The Camellia Crossing subdivision is being developed on a portion of the site. Eight new homes have been built so far, and six of them have been sold.

Mayor Leonard Riley supported the zoning change. “Two current members of the council are on the planning commission, and they voted in favor of the change,” he said.

Jones said he would have voted for the change had it involved a smaller amount of land, around 100 acres or so. On another topic, Jones said he was well pleased with the new sidewalks going on in the Fairfax community. He’s excited about plans that are underway to convert the Fairfax Mill site into a park setting. A landscape designer is currently working on a plan for the area and they will be discussed in an upcoming public forum.

Mayor Riley asked each member of the council to submit a list of streets in their district they’d like to be considered for paving next year. The goal is to see that each district gets as equal an amount as possible in the way of road improvements.

Riley said the city’s Rebuild Alabama account had grown to around $290,000 and that he’d like to see it grow some more before spending any of it on road improvements and signage. Under the Rebuild Alabama law, each city and county gets a portion of the 10-cent gasoline tax that’s being collected.

The City of Valley currently has a sizable amount of money in the bank and carries a monthly balance of more than $9 million. It’s financially healthy enough to budget some significant money for street improvements each year.

Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount told the council that her department had a strong run on the Christmas Merry Go Round. There was a total of 74,366 rides this year. This was an increase of almost 4,000 rides from the previous year when some cold or stormy weather caused the cancellation of some days to run the merry-go-round. “We had a constant flow of people on most of the days we were open,” Blount said. “We were pleased with the turnouts we received this year. The weather was good, and we had no closures.”

Public Works Director Patrick Bolt said that his department is weather-sensitive as well. “What we can get done depends on the weather,” he said. “We have been doing some work on the new sidewalks in Fairfax, and when the weather clears we’ll be going back to do some work at Fairfax Elementary School. We’ve been putting up some fencing around the Riverdale Mill site. We will have a lot of work to do this spring.”

Council Member Jim Clark had some good news to report. “I have something now I thought I’d never have,” he said. “I have a daughter-in-law. My son got married, and we are all happy about that.”

He also had some sad news to report. “Bill Gilbert died today,” he said. “I hate it. He had been ill for some time. If he was your friend you had a great friend. He will be missed by many, many people.”

Gilbert was a retired revenue commissioner for Chambers County and was well known for the entertainment provided at Langdale Theater by the Langdale Company.

His funeral will be held at 2 p.m. EST on Friday, January 19th at Shawmut Methodist Church. Johnson Brown is handling the arrangements.

Chief Mike Reynolds reported on the Valley Police Department’s activity in 2023. Compared to the previous year there was more going on in some areas and less in others. On the good side, there were fewer accidents (292) and arrests (1,519) than in 2022, when VPD worked 391 accidents and made 1,535 arrests. The police department answered 12,613 calls in 2023 compared to 13,149 in 2022. A total of 983 reports were filed in 2023 with 941 being made in 2022. Traffic stops were up, 4,913 this past year next to 4,678 in 2022. Warnings and citations were also up, with 1,859 warnings in 2023 compared to 1,028 warnings in 2022 and 1,704 citations compared to 1,349 the previous year.

The council approved a five-item consent agenda. This included allowing alcoholic beverages to be consumed at a birthday party at Lakeview Cabin on Saturday, January 27th and in the parking lot at Valley Sportsplex for a Valley Local Festival on Saturday, March 23rd. A weed lien was imposed at an address on 23rd Drive and public nuisances were declared at a location on 18th Avenue and another location on 20th Avenue. Action will be taken to clean up both properties. Code Enforcement Officer Adam Roberts showed photos of the two properties on big screen TVs inside the council chamber.

A public hearing will precede the January 22nd council meeting to confirm the costs of cleaning up nuisance properties on Dunn Place, 16th Place and Reservoir Street.