Madison city leaders approve townhome development deal

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MADISON, Ala. - The Madison City Council approved a development agreement with developer, Breland Homes, on Monday that would set the stage for a townhome project near downtown Madison. The vote, taken at Monday's meeting, was approved 5-1 with District 4 council member Greg Shaw voting against and District 3 council member Teddy Powell abstaining.

This comes as Madison's school system is working through the growth issue. Its enrollment continues to grow as families relocate to Madison, and the district is asking taxpayers to vote on a referendum to increase property taxes to fund new school buildings.

Shaw said Monday that the people of his district who spoke out at Monday's meeting and live in the area to be developed, largely don't support the project. He wanted to vote along with how they felt. He said he also needs to consider how more homes would impact a rapidly overcrowding school system.

Council member Teddy Powell said he wants the district and developers to get together and work it out, and he plans to abstain on relevant votes until that happens.

"From this point forward, I will abstain on every vote of a developer or the school board until they can get together," he said.

The Kyser Project

The development agreement states the project would be at the end of Kyser Boulevard off Sullivan Street. It would create residential townhomes on 106 acres of land Breland owns. The agreement allows that no more than 50 homes would be built each year over an 8-10 year period, allowing for construction in stages per Madison's Growth Policy. The development would also include two greenways and preserved green space, the agreement states.

Joey Cici, a spokesman for Breland's companies, said Monday that the Kyser luxury townhomes would include $3 million of developer-funded new roads. The artery to be constructed would run from Kyser to Westchester, connecting the two existing roads. No houses would front that road. He said this aligns with a need the city has for traffic flow.

Breland will also fund the construction of a greenway connecting Bradford Creek Greenway to Downtown Madison and the Singing River Trail. Open and green space, a pool and clubhouse, strict HOA guidelines, and a berm to help reduce noise for existing homes would be included in the plan.

"Will there be no children who live here? Of course not. They're not prohibited from being there. But the product that is being built is really geared toward young millennials, active seniors," Cici told media after the meeting. "The floor plan, the amenities, this isn't even going to have a playground. Very little in terms of a yard. This is very much designed for an empty-nester or young adult who might want something that's close to shopping. Very active lifestyle, but doesn't have the children."

The Concerns

Citizens have spoken out against the deal in the past and did so again at Monday's meeting.

Some asked that Madison instead focus less on residential and more on bringing businesses to town.

Others who live on Kyser Boulevard say they want more information about what's coming in.

"There really hasn't been much transparency on what's actually going to happen in the field on the other side of my fence," one man stated.

"We have enough houses. Bring us some jobs," Robert Kendall argued.

"From a real estate perspective, we do not have enough homes," another woman contended.

The Benefits

Madison city leaders maintain that the city needs more homes, tax revenue and economic activity in that area, and the development would be beneficial to the city.

"From the city's viewpoint is it brings a lot of value to our community. They're making road improvements, greenway and trail improvements, connectivity within our city," said Steve Smith, Madison City Council President. "We vetted it."

He said the townhomes will bring in fewer school students than a single-family dwelling subdivision would.

"It may bring in some extra students, but not to the extent where it is going to burden our school system," he stated.

A council vote is still needed for rezoning the land before work can begin.

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