MADISON, Ala. - Monday, the Madison City Council approved two new residential developments for construction.
The council unanimously voted to approve two rezoning proposals and their corresponding development agreements, discussed at length at the previous meeting. This means more than 200 homes will now be built off Powell Road and Hardiman Road over the next five years.
Developer Jeff Enfinger said he worked hard to comply with the city's new growth policy which encourages lower-density, higher-priced housing. However, it limits the amount of homes that can be built per year.
"We are allowing Madison to grow, but we are not allowing it to grow quickly. It is a controlled growth," council president Steve Smith said. "It helps our school system adjust to the numbers."
Smith said the council didn't approve the developments without consulting Madison City Schools, which has asked for growth to be slowed while they work out a funding solution to build multiple new schools.
"It's not going to over-burden schools with large numbers. We will still experience growth, but it is small growth," Smith added.
However, citizens are divided about how the developments will affect schools that are already at capacity. Some questioned the cost to the city with each new homeowner and the students that may move in. Others suggested halting growth again until the school system can finance new school buildings.
Others say adding homes means adding people who can support local businesses and the Madison tax base.
Council members say the city also must take advantage of what's to come.
John Seifert stated, "We've got growth occurring...with Toyota Mazda, other things coming in," adding, "Those folks are going to want to come live in Madison."
The council will continue to work with Madison City Schools on the growth issue moving forward.
"We are working hand in hand with our schools to make sure we get it right," Smith said. "I think we will continue to monitor growth, continue to work with our school system. There may be some adjustments we need to make with our growth policy. We will watch it and make changes accordingly."
Managing growth is something that must happen together, council member Teddy Powell said, to keep the city going.
"We're all bailing water," he said. "So, everybody grab a bucket and let's get the water out of the boat, and let's keep floating."