By Rebekah Martin
The Opelika Planning Commission heard from a number of concerned citizens at Tuesday’s meeting. The vast majority of those who made statements during the public hearing were concerned about a piece of property at the intersection of Rocky Brook Road and Hillflo Avenue possibly being annexed to the city and rezoned.
The property, which encompasses roughly 234 acres and is surrounded on three sides by property of the city of Opelika, is currently owned by Lee County.
Ledge Nettles, owner of Baseline Surveying & Design, LLC, was present at the commission meeting on behalf of his client, who requested the annexation and rezoning in hopes of developing the property into a subdivision. Nettles’ client wished to remain anonymous until a decision was made by the planning commission.
The annexation request was recommended by the planning commission staff with zoning as an R1-A status, which is, by law, a lot that is a minimum of 30,000 square feet and has a width of 100 feet.
Nettles said his client desires the property to be zoned for R2 lots, which is a lot with a minimum size of 15, 000 square feet and 80 feet in width. Both R1-A and R2 zones are strictly for single family homes.
Nettles said his client would be forced to walk away from the project if the commission gave the property an R1-A zoning status.
Keith Pridgen emphasized that the public hearings were supposed to revolve around the option of annexation and rezoning only.
“This public hearing is simply about annexation and rezoning right now,” Pridgen said. “This discussion is not about the size of the houses, dimensions or details of the houses or subdivision.”
Allen Lazenby owns a home in the area adjacent to the property in question. “I think there’s a lot of folks, including myself who are concerned about the development and it fitting in with the rest of the community,” Lazenby said. “I think we just want to know that what will be built will fit in rather than be something that will stand out and hurt property values of existing properties.”
Pridgen said there is currently a lack of an agreement between the county and the city, and therefore the city has no governing power over the property in question. “The developers could build this subdivision tomorrow, by bypassing us and going to the county,” Pridgen said. “If we say no annexation, they can still build on it. This is not like two years ago when we still had control over the planning jurisdiction.”
Regardless, residents of the area voiced concerns about the anonymity around the developer’s identity, and those who spoke were firmly opposed to the annexation before knowing the name of the developer.
Pridgen asked the commission for a motion, and the annexation and rezoning request of Nettles’ client was not approved. The discussion is planned to continue at a later date.