Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Council rejects mayor’s attempt to hold subdivision annexation hostage

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In her first two years as mayor, Jennifer Talley has often led her colleagues to agree with various concerns, initiatives, and objections she’d voice before becoming mayor in 2021 and since.

She usually rounds up a majority, as she did earlier in the night in getting a 3-2 majority to vote for her motion to deny a tractor trailer parking lot near I-85/40. [See separate story this edition.]

But Talley’s charms and persuasion failed on a subsequent annexation request for 57.106 acres along Little Creek Drive for a subdivision being built by Windsor Homes.

Talley wanted to reject the annexation for a subdivision project she had opposed prior to becoming mayor when a different council was more willing to allow smaller, more dense subdivisions than Talley preferred.

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She and fellow councilman Ricky Hall were often outvoted 3-2 in those days.

So when David Michaels of Windsor homes was before the council Tuesday night, seeking a simple annexation of the future subdivision, Talley had a list of grievances to discuss. Among them: what she considered the smaller-than-promised size of the lots in the subdivision.

While the conditional zoning is based on R-12 residential zoning, which anticipates 12,000-square-foot lots, the conditional aspect of the earlier site plan also allowed for open spaces (largely because of wetlands on some of the property) and offset that with somewhat smaller lots.

Michaels said the “average lot size” was 11,031-square-feet among the 179 single-family lots in the proposed subdivision.

Talley also raised concerns that earlier Windsor construction on other subdivisions along the same areas off Rogers Road south of the city had “torn up” certain city streets, potentially costing the city in future repairs.

Even with assurances from Michaels that his company was willing to make repairs along Wildwood Lane (Talley’s primary example) and had already worked out the principles of an agreement with the city’s public works director, she was not satisfied.

She hinted that the consequence of turning down the annexation would prompt the developer to come back with larger lots and higher-valued homes. But Michaels said the company’s strategy was to “build what the market wants.”

“What do we gain by not annexing [the property]?” councilman Bobby Chin challenged. He said he saw no point in “holding annexation over the developer’s head.”

Talley made a motion to deny the annexation that failed, 2-3, with only Joey Parsons supporting her motion. Ricky Hall, Chin,  and Bonnie Whitaker voted against.

Hall then made a motion, seconded by Chin, to approve the annexation, which passed by 3-2 with the same voting configuration: Chin, Parsons, and Hall in favor; Talley and Parsons opposed.

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