New 375-home development planned on 181

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FAIRHOPE – A new planned unit development that will add 375 single-family homes on Alabama 181 north of Alabama 104 has been approved by the Fairhope City Council. The council voted to approve the request for Harvest Green PUD and to annex the property where the homes will be built. Hunter Simmons, city planning director, said the PUD will be built on 193 acres in two phases on each side of Alabama 181. The area to the west will include 148 larger homes, while 225 will be built on the east side of the highway. Council President Jack Burrell said that while the overall development has more green space than is required by the city, the northern part of the PUD east of Alabama 181 appears to be packed with houses. “I can’t help but look at that upper portion of the Harvest Green East and wonder when we talk about this 1.93 units per acre. That’s a very, very dense area,” Burrell said. “I guess if you get a large enough PUD, you can smear the density over. In this case, we’re smearing the density over two sides of a highway. I guess they’re calling it Phase 1 and Phase 2, but what I see is almost three distinct subdivisions if you will.” He said he also worried about traffic on the highway. “If you came up with that top part, I would never vote for it,” Burrell said. “That’s just about a cookie-cutter a plan as I’ve ever seen. Not very attractive at all and it dumps a ton of traffic on that highway.” Larry Smith, who represented the developer, said the layout of the site, including wetlands, required that more green spaces be placed in certain parts of the development. He said the complete plan has more than 25 percent green space on the site, which exceeds city requirements. “One of the concepts behind the PUD is to do something a little bit different and I know it is shoving a lot up into the north, but the purpose of that was to put more protection on the more critical areas,” Smith said. Burrell voted to approve the PUD and annexation. He said that if the site is not brought into Fairhope, it could be developed on the property in an unincorporated area without city oversight. “I also understand the alternatives, which is to not annex and then it’s the same “Catch 22,” staying in the county and develop in the county,” Burrell said. “I just know that population density is the one subject that we may hear from our citizens the most on and the people get upset on. If you go to any of the comp-plan meetings, it’s slow down, reduce density and quit approving everything that comes before you.” Simmons said the Fairhope Planning Commission had voted 9-0 earlier to recommend that the council approve the PUD plan.