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Subdivision issue sent back to city

Before a room full of concerned citizens, the BrookhavenPlanning Commission Wednesday made no decision on a controversialsubdivision development and voted to refer the issue back to theboard of aldermen for final action next week.

Amid concerns about lot size, house size and drainage, aldermenlast week delayed action on Steven and Victoria McKey’s request forplat approval of a subdivision near South Jackson Street Extension,Mississippi Street and Church Street and sent the matter to theplanning commission. County supervisors have already approved thesubdivision plans.

Planning commission members Wednesday struggled through similarconcerns in talking with the McKeys and in trying to reach adecision.

The McKeys’ development targets older residents and retirees whowant to downsize to smaller homes. Plans are to have 12 lots on theproperty, with homes ranging from $95,000-$110,000.

However, some say that number is too high and would not allowhomes that are compatible or in character with other neighborhoodhomes, which are generally larger and on larger lots.

“If it’s not in character with the neighborhood, we ought toquestion it,” said planning commission member D.W. Maxwell, citingan issue that is typically considered in zoning changerequests.

Planning commission officials acknowledged the McKeys hadadhered to minimum standards for R-1 residential development.Officials also pointed out that the McKeys modified sewagetreatment system plans after water department officials voicedconcerns about the original system.

In an effort to allow time to negotiate and try to reach acompromise that would result in fewer, but larger, homes, planningcommission member Mitchell Davis offered a motion to table thesubdivision plat issue. It died for a lack of a second.

A motion, offered by commission member David Phillips, to sendthe matter back to the city board was then passed. The resolutionwill make reference to commission questions about lot size, housesize, drainage concerns and neighborhood compatibility.

The planning commission is an advisory board and the board ofaldermen can accept or reject any commission recommendations inreaching a final decision.

“The advice is, we don’t have any advice for you. We’ve just gotsome questions,” said attorney Dudley Lampton in summing up thecommission action.

The McKeys had no comment after the meeting. Engineer J.B.Rushing, who has been working with the couple on subdivision plans,questioned future city development in light of a pendingannexation.

“When you’ve met all the rules and still can’t get approved, howdoes the city expect to develop all this new territory that they’regoing to annex?,” Rushing said.

Neighbors of the planned development filled the city board roomfor the commission meeting and quickly left after it adjourned. Aflyer, including the names of commission members and their phonenumbers and citing the potential for declining property values dueto the subdivision, had been circulated prior to the meeting.

At last week’s city board meeting, Alderman at large LesBumgarner and Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill voiced constituents’concerns in questioning the development. Bumgarner attendedWednesday’s commission meeting.

“We’ll discuss it when it comes up,” Bumgarner said about cityboard action on the subdivision.

Aldermen last week indicated that a special meeting would becalled yesterday after the commission acted. However, severalaldermen had scheduling conflicts and the meeting was not held.

City Attorney Joe Fernald, who was present for the commissionmeeting, said the mayor’s position was that the McKeys had waitedlong enough for a decision. He anticipated one would be madeTuesday.

“I expect it to be resolved Tuesday one way or another,” Fernaldsaid.