First phase of major Pike Road housing development underway

First phase of major Pike Road housing development underway
The sale of the Pike Road land to building developer D.R. Horton closed last week. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
The entire development plan is for 417 acres that will be done in five phases. The total development is expected to hold nearly 800 total housing lots. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
The entire development plan is for 417 acres that will be done in five phases. The total development is expected to hold nearly 800 total housing lots. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Pike Road Planning Director Jonathan Smith said the development is exciting for the town. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Pike Road Planning Director Jonathan Smith said the development is exciting for the town. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

PIKE ROAD, AL (WSFA) - Steps to prepare the 113 acres of land set to become the Meriwether Preserve community will take place this week.

The sale of the land to building developer D.R. Horton closed last week. Frank Thomas, who sold the land to D.R. Horton, gave this statement to WSFA 12 News on the sale:

"After over a year and a half of planning, we closed on phase 1 of Meriwether Preserve last Thursday. Clearing begins this week, and D.R. Horton has a wonderful project planned that will be a great addition  to the Town of Pike Road. This has been a group effort by many and I truly appreciate all of the great people at D.R. Horton."

D.R. Horton did not have a comment on the sale.

The Pike Road Planning Commission approved the proposal for the development in November, after the vote had to be delayed so some errors in the original traffic study could be corrected.

Pike Road Councilwoman Betsy Atkins, who sits on the planning commission, was one of two planning commissioners who voted against the development.

"The errors were corrected, but we still questioned the validity of the traffic study," Atkins said. "It took in the number of cars that would come through during a school day and gave an estimate. At this point, the school was open, and we should have a traffic study that has actual real numbers. It was done during the summer, and you don't have the typical numbers you would have during a school year. Lots of people are off. Kids are not going to school. You don't have bus traffic or car traffic from kids going to school."

She said, if given another opportunity to vote, she would still vote against it.

"I still think the planning commission should have requested that," Atkins said. "I think there were questions surrounding the quality of the developer and the quality of construction."

However, now that the development has been approved, she said she is confident and hopeful it will be a positive addition to the Town of Pike Road.

"We need to move forward and make sure the development meets our standards, and that it maintains the quality throughout the neighborhood," Atkins said. "That's what we've done with all of our neighborhoods."

Pike Road Planning Director Jonathan Smith said the development is exciting for Pike Road.

"The town is growing, and we are excited about that growth," Smith said. "We have to manage it responsibly, and we have to make sure everything is done properly."

He said there're a number of steps to be taken before the community can expect to see homes being built on the property.

"The developers have indicated that they'd like to start moving dirt, so to speak, around the first part of April," Smith said. "That will involve them installing all the infrastructure involved in a new development, that would be streets, curb and gutter, making sure all the erosion control devices are put in place. Utilities will need to be installed."

Once those improvements are made, a final plat will have to be approved by the planning commission based on the results. Once the plat is approved, homes can be built.

The first phase of the development for the Meriwether Preserve community, which is the sale that closed last week, is 113 acres of land being prepared for about 200 housing lots. The entire development plan is for 417 acres that will be done in five phases. The total development is expected to hold nearly 800 total housing lots.

Smith said the phases will be completed based upon the need in the community as the area continues to grow.  He said it's hard to determined a timeline, but he said it's likely all five phases could be complete in the next 10 to 15 years.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.