Map provided by city of Hoover
Hidden Valley Apartments map 2
The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission denied U.S. Steel's request to divide 140 acres along Interstate 459 for up to 820 apartments. The land in question is outlined in black here.
The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission tonight voted unanimously to deny U.S. Steel’s request for permission to build a road for a new apartment complex that could hold roughly 820 apartments.
U.S. Steel was looking to divide about 140 acres just southeast of Interstate 459 between Preserve Parkway and the Patton Creek shopping center into three lots zoned mostly for apartments and to build an access road.
Those lots would have taken up about 129 acres, and the proposed road and right of way would have taken up 10.5 acres, Assistant City Engineer Chris Reeves said.
U.S. Steel does not have a detailed plan for development of the apartment complex but is looking to sell the land for development, said David Stovall, an engineer representing U.S. Steel.
Hoover Councilman John Lyda, who is the council’s representative on the planning commission, made the motion to deny U.S. Steel’s request, based on comments from the city engineer and what he deemed an incomplete application.
At least two other planning commissioners said it appeared U.S. Steel was not fully ready to bring its request forward.
City Engineer Rodney Long noted that U.S. Steel does not yet have approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make adjustments to a stream bed that runs through the property in the way that U.S. Steel plans to do it.
Hoover Executive Director Allen Pate, who also sits on the planning commission, said U.S. Steel also was only seeking Corps of Engineers approval for the proposed road and did not show on its plans where actual apartment buildings and access roads to those buildings would be.
The city’s engineering staff also said they wanted to see additional guardrails along the proposed road and right-turn lanes into the parking areas for the apartment buildings.
David Stovall, an engineer representing U.S. Steel, said his client would be happy to install whatever turn lanes and guardrails city officials deemed necessary.
He said U.S. Steel already has Corps of Engineers approval to reroute 6,600 feet of the stream on the property through pipes. However, that permit is set to expire soon, and U.S. Steel now has new designs that would have much less environmental impact on the stream, he said.
Instead of redirecting much of the stream through pipes, the new designs show the road crossing the stream in several locations with culverts, Stovall said. The Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t like for applicants to submit changes to plans, so U.S. Steel wanted to wait until it got preliminary subdivision approval from Hoover before applying for a new Corps of Engineers permit, Stovall said.
But the planning commission voted to deny U.S. Steel’s request.
Billy Silver, an executive for U.S. Steel, declined to comment after the meeting, referring all questions to the company’s public relations office.
Map provided by city of Hoover
Hidden Valley Apartments map 1
U.S. Steel wanted to subdivide 140 acres along Interstate 459 in Hoover, Ala. for up to 820 apartments, but the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission denied the request, citing an incomplete application and comments from the city engineer.
Numerous Hoover residents commented on Facebook today about how a large new apartment complex like this would have a negative impact on the Hoover school system, adding many students.
Planning commissioner Sammy Harris said he had heard about those concerns but they did not factor into his vote to deny U.S. Steel’s request. Pate said the same.
“It’s zoned for apartments. There’s nothing I can do about that,” Pate said.
Hoover school board President Derrick Murphy and school board member Craig Kelley both were present at tonight’s planning commission meeting. Kelley thanked Harris for his vote afterward, but both Kelley and Murphy said they were present mostly for informational purposes.
“It’s our job to make sure if residents come into the city, we provide a school for them,” Kelley said.
School officials have to keep up with proposed developments so they can properly plan to accommodate students, Murphy said.
Randall Haddock, field director for the Cahaba River Society, told the planning commission tonight that it was hard to assess the environmental impact the proposed development would have on the Cahaba River watershed, including nearby Paradise Lake, without more detailed plans.
A developer who used strong erosion control measures could potentially do a good job protecting the watershed, but if a developer wasn’t willing to spend the money to do the job right, it could be a very bad problem, Haddock said.
Stovall said U.S. Steel is aware of the difficulties associated with developing the site in question and the history of problems downstream at Paradise Lake. U.S. Steel is committed to utilize measures necessary for good erosion control, he said.
The part of this property nearest the proposed entrance off Preserve Parkway formerly was used as an underground coal mine, Stovall said. No dwellings would be built on top of that land, but that land could hold parking areas and a roadway, he said.
Part of the property also was once used for strip mining, Stovall said.
Plans submitted to the city, if they had been approved, would have allowed for 270 apartments on the first 40-acre lot, 200 apartments on a 32-acre lot and 350 apartments on a 58-acre lot, the assistant city engineer said. The project was labeled Hidden Valley by U.S. Steel.