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East Limestone leads growth with 786 lots approved

The following is a story that ran in our sister-paper The Decatur Daily on Sunday. It examines the rapid growth in Limestone County, which includes the western section of Madison. It also looks at the expansion of residential homes in east Limestone County near Madison.

Alabama’s fastest growing county is adding housing for even more residents, and that means Limestone County will have to improve roads, find a way to hire more deputies and consider adding schools, officials said.

In the first six months of this year, the County Commission has approved 786 lots just for District 2, which is in the central-eastern portion of the county.

“Right now, (growth is) a good thing to have,” Commission Chairman Collin Daly said. “We’re trying to grow well, the best we can with the resources we have.”

He said all the districts are poised for more growth, with 107 lots added so far this year in District 1, while 35 have been approved for District 3 and 109 for District 4.

Limestone County grew by an estimated 3.1% to 107,517 people from 2020 to 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Danny Barksdale, District 2 county commissioner, said he believes his district is growing because of its proximity to Huntsville.

But challenges accompany the growth, and Barksdale said they have hired a consulting firm to do a traffic study in District 2.

“Indications are that our roads will handle the growth, but our challenge will be to get traffic through intersections. So that’s what we’re working on, intersection improvement,” Barksdale said.

There are three priority intersections, Barksdale said, and the Alabama Department of Transportation is reconstructing two of them.

“Alabama DOT is doing a $2 million renovation to Alabama Highway 72 and Mooresville Road. And they’re installing a roundabout at the intersection of Capshaw (Road) and East Limestone Road. The next intersection that I would have concerns about is East Limestone and Nick Davis (roads) that we’re looking at trying to determine the best solution,” he said.

Barksdale said other intersections will eventually become a priority.

“With our growth, that’s not to say others won’t pop up,” he said.

Some options for intersection improvements, Barksdale said, are adding turning lanes and roundabouts. He said he is a fan of roundabouts when it comes to moving traffic through an intersection.

Schools, law enforcement

The sheriff’s department must grow with the county as well, Daly said. He said the commission recently applied for a grant to help pay for hiring three more deputies.

“With the way the growth is, you’re always trying to add a deputy or two here or there,” Daly said. Taking actions like applying for grants helps “just until we can grow enough to get our revenue where we can support them.”

The two schools in District 2 are Creekside Elementary and East Limestone High. Daly said there is a need for more schools with the county’s growth.

“They’re fixing to start building one (elementary school) in Elkmont right now. In the east part of the county, they’re going to have to build a middle school before it’s over with because there’s so many children at Creekside, on the elementary side of it, and East Limestone High School,” he said.

Daly said the county is using COVID relief funds and grants to help improve infrastructure to keep pace with the growth. He said they are also advocating for legislative help.

“The infrastructure bill is supposed to come out in the next legislative session,” he said. “We’re going to try to be on top of that, see how much we can get our share of.”

Daly said the county has been working at a fast pace making intersection improvements and resurfacing high-traffic roads, mainly on the east side of the county where there is more congestion. However, there are roads all across the county that need attention.

“The next few years we’re going to really concentrate on the major collector roads, the roads that bring the traffic in. Roads like Easter Ferry (Road). We’re going to finish up Snake Road,” Daly said. “They’re doing Seven Mile Post (Road) right now that goes out from New Cut (Road) over to (U.S. 72). We’ll be working on Shaw Road a lot.”

The East Limestone Volunteer Fire Department has two locations in District 2. The importance of having volunteer fire departments grows when the county grows, Daly said.

“In the rural, unincorporated portions of the county … the volunteer fire association has to serve them. That’s a 100% volunteer organization,” Daly said. “They’re always struggling, needing more volunteers, more help.”

Newest subdivisions

Two subdivisions in District 2 moved forward at the June 21 commission meeting. The commission approved construction starting on 101 lots in the Walton Creek subdivision and OK’d sales starting on 96 lots in the Charleston subdivision.

Athens developer Gray Winn, with WSW Development, said Walton Creek is in the first of two phases. Construction will begin on the approved first phase of 101 lots after they receive bids.

The lots are “largely going to be either 83- to 90-foot wide. We try to do a little bit larger lots, not the real small ones,” Winn said. The size of the homes is still undecided, but he said they will probably be between 2,500 and 4,000 square feet. They will have a minimum of four bedrooms.

The second phase, once approved, Winn said, should start before the first phase is completed. “We’ll start selling houses in phase one as soon as they have the roads and everything paved.” He said the houses will be priced starting at $400,000.

The subdivision is located on the north side of Pepper Road near the Jones Road intersection.

Charleston just completed the 96 lots in its first phase and received a final approval, meaning the roads are completed and they can start selling the lots. They received preliminary approval from the commission on May 3 to start construction of the second phase with 170 lots.

Hunter Daws, project manager for the county’s engineering department, said the lot sizes range from 0.11 to 0.25 acres. The subdivision is located across from Menefee Road, on the south side of Capshaw Road. The developer is Concord Land Development.

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