Highlands residents unhappy with proposed development

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2016

It was standing room only as about a hundred folks filled a courtroom in the Chancery Building during Tuesday night’s Lafayette County Planning Commission meeting.

The reason? Another development in the county that has some residents fuming.

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Jeff Williams of Williams Engineering went before the commission representing a developer who wants to add 26 new homes to Phase 10 of The Highlands subdivision.

Several residents, including a lawyer speaking on their behalf, addressed the commission to voice the concerns about the proposed development that they say will create traffic issues, make already bad water pressure issues worse and break promises of a serene neighborhood.

“I’m not opposed to change,” said Joanne Oliver who moved to The Highlands eight years ago and said she and many others were promised the development would remain peaceful. “For those of us in this room, this is the single largest investment that we have ever made. The promise of the developer is not being upheld.”

Future development?

Another concern from residents is future development where potentially more homes may be developed in the subdivision.

“We were sold on the idea of peaceful living and not having cars whizzing by,” homeowner Robert Epps, who built his home in 2007, said. “Adding 26 homes doesn’t make it too dangerous, but potentially 126 houses feeding into this area does make it dangerous when it was designed for 50 or 60 homes.”

Residents are also worried about the traffic outside the subdivision, in particular, Highway 6 where there currently is no turn lane into the development.

“I’m constantly looking in my rear-view mirror wondering if that person is going to slow down while I try to turn into The Highlands,” Epps said.

Lawyer Ryan Reeves said several homeowners want the entrance to be classified as a collector road rather than an arterial road, which means the road must be a 60-foot right-of-way rather than the current 50 feet.

“Our position is it meets the definition of a collector street,” Reeves said.

The commission agreed with Reeves and approved the development on the condition the road be classified as a collector street. Commissioner Johnny Sowell voted against approval.

Condos on hold

Most of the other residents that were crammed in to the courtroom were there to voice opposition to the Idyllwild condo development that will be next to The Highlands in Tuscin Hills.

Williams wanted to clear up some matters regarding the development, in particular condo residents would not be privy to the lake at The Highlands, the developer is working on provisions preventing renting to students and placing age restrictions on the units.

“I think there’s been a lot of confusion about this particular development,” Williams said. “A lot of conversation that has taken place that may or may not be true. It is a fact this particular property would not follow the same regulations as the Highlands.”

He then asked the commission to postpone the matter and place it on a future agenda.

The planning commission tabled the measure.

Other business

• Granted a variance and commercial site plan approval for a Dollar General in the Paris community.

• Granted a plat change for the Pine Needle subdivision.

• Granted final subdivision plat approval for four lots on 26.5 acres in Shelbi’s Place Phase VI.

• Approved an occupancy change for Stout’s commercial building to convert a former church into a dance studio just north of Freeway grocery on County Road 101.

• Approved a motion to support the county engineer on two subdivision regulation changes involving right-of-way setbacks and the inspection of pipes with the use of video.