DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The Decatur City Council voted 3-to-1 on Monday to annex almost 15 acres of land that will be used for a 175-unit apartment complex – a move that has been met with controversy since its inception.
Gregg Blythe has owned the land and raised livestock on it for over three decades. He says that agreeing to build a massive housing unit behind his farm makes little sense.
“I’m in the county so I can keep my cows, but it will interfere with the people living in the apartment,” Blythe told News 19.
For the past several years, city leaders have pushed to expand Decatur into a more modern infrastructure that includes housing and wider roads. The proposed housing complex layout will be just 30 feet from the Blythe farmland.
“The city is looking for growth and we agree with growth, but what we believe is that there is the right place for certain types of developments,” said Andrea Hoffmeier, creator of 1Duck, OneDecatur United Citizens Kaizen. “This is not the right place for 150 to 250 residents to be crammed onto less than 15 acres.”
The engineers and developers have been approved for the controversial project that will be upwards of $25 million to complete. Blythe said too much of the historical land will have to be demolished for that to happen.
“All of the trees in the area will have to come down,” he continued. “On the other side of the 15 acres of property are single-family homes who will back up to 30 feet from the apartment buildings.”
Hoffmeier said that property developer Andy Villarreal has to consider what’s at stake.
“There’s not enough setback so, he could voluntarily say ‘okay, I realize that 30 feet is not reasonable and plan for retention ponds and things like that’,” she said. “He could be proactive but so far, we haven’t seen that.”
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling is said to have approved the project.