Pike Road Schools superintendent reacts to proposed subdivision
PIKE ROAD, Ala. (WSFA) - After weeks of controversy, the Pike Road Town Council gave the final go-ahead to a large new housing project Wednesday.
The Town Council voted 3-2 in favor of rezoning land off Wallahatchie and Vaughn Roads from agricultural land to residential land for a 1,091-home subdivision.
The housing development will be built right by Pike Road Schools’ new high school.
“It’s not where we’re in opposition or support,” said Pike Road Schools Superintendent Keith Lankford.
Lankford said the nearly 1,100-home subdivision off Vaughn Road, adjacent to where the school system’s new high school will be built, will be a challenge, but is a great opportunity for the community.
“It was the city’s decision, and of course now that that decision’s been made, we need to work with the developers, as well as the town and the planning commission, and try to, again, make sure it is what’s best for everybody,” Lankford said.
Lankford said with the school and housing development project being built simultaneously, Pike Road has a unique opportunity to plan ahead.
“I have been in preliminary discussions with Lowder New Homes and we’ve shared some ideas and, again, both us having a seat at the table, that’s huge for our community because the other schools we have and most schools throughout the state never get this opportunity to do it prior to,” Lankford said.
Pike Road is one of the fastest growing towns in the state, which is why the school system passed a property tax increase in October to build the new high school. The new school is meant to fix the overcrowding the system is experiencing.
Lankford said the approval of the new subdivision doesn’t change the fact that they were already anticipating an increase in enrollment.
“We’re already overcrowded, and that development hasn’t started,” Lankford said. “And there’s multiple developments within Pike Road community that are still building houses today. So it’s something that we have to plan for and I think that is the key to this.”
School officials say the new high school will hold between 1,200 and 1,500 students in grades nine through 12. It should be built by 2025.
Residents have voiced concerns about the new housing development for weeks, pointing to concerns over possible school overcrowding and traffic congestion.
The Pike Road Planning Commission voted 5-2 in favor of the zoning change request in May after developer Lowder New Homes reduced the project by 180 units. Lowder also promised to add green space and trails and only build 50 homes per year during the course of the approximately 20-year project.
A traffic study was also conducted by Lowder. It suggests widening Vaughn Road to five lanes, but that decision would ultimately be made by the Alabama Department of Transportation.
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