Dinsmore property, annexation could spur growth in Southeast Decatur

May 8, 2018

From The Decatur Daily
By: Deangelo McDaniel

Property for residential growth in one part of Southeast Decatur is for sale in five-acre lots, while city officials are in negotiations to annex land behind the new Publix on Alabama 67 in the Point Mallard Centre, a city official said.

The two plans could spur residential growth in the Indian Hills-Burningtree area, but they are unlikely to lead to construction of a new elementary school that has been talked about for more than three decades.

The larger of the two areas being mentioned as residential property is between Mountain Valley and Bennich roads. The 118-acre tract was part of the Dinsmore family estate and is being sold in minimum five-acre tracts, Mark McCurry of Parker Real Estate said.

McCurry would not release the names but said “a young couple” purchased the property and is keeping a 20-acre tract and two 10-acre tracts for family. The land has six five-acre tracts facing Mountain Valley Road, while an additional 48 acres would have access from Indian Hills and Bennich roads.

Pulpwood was on parts of the five-acre tracts in recent weeks. The land is in Decatur’s city limits, but does not have city sewer, McCurry said. Sewer in that area is provided by the town of Priceville.

“All of the other utilities are in place,” McCurry said. “There’s been a lot of interest in the property.”

McCurry said two developers have inquired about buying the property, which has a natural pond, for residential subdivisions.

Former Decatur High School basketball coach Earl Morris, who helped develop and resides at The Glens of Burningtree subdivision next door to the property, said the new landowners of the Dinsmore property have agreed to keep a tree buffer between any new development and The Glens.

Decatur City Council President Paige Bibbee, who represents the area, said she was not familiar with the Dinsmore property situation, but knows about the annexation discussions behind Publix.

She said a plan to expand sewer north of Publix to Upper River Road could come before the council for a vote sometime soon, and this would give developers access to sewer if they run connection lines under the streets.

Bibbee said she sees the annexation as an opportunity to get some “new rooftops” in Decatur, but she didn’t think building a new elementary school and expecting growth to follow was a good idea.

“Ultimately this will be the school board’s decision,” she said. “Currently, there are not enough students in the area to support the school, and the majority of the kids would have to be bused. I’d like to see more (residential), then look at the school.”

Decatur City Schools has other things to focus on anyway.

“Funds are not available for a new elementary school,” Decatur City Superintendent Michael Douglas said. “We’re focused on opening two new high schools.”

Looking for residential growth in Southeast Decatur is nothing new for city officials.

In 2006, developer Joe Duckworth Sr., of Tuscaloosa, purchased 166 acres in the Burningtree area. The council annexed the property in 2007 as a 400-lot subdivision.

The developer’s initial plan was to cater to military personnel and government contractors relocating to Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal as part of the government’s Base Realignment and Closure program, but the recession crippled housing development in the Decatur area.

Duckworth has lobbied city leaders for a new school to spur development, but a facilities study the school district paid $12,500 for in 2013 did not recommend a school in the area.

Bibbee, who represents the Burningtree area, said her focus in the area is growth, both residential and commercial. She said several of the vacant buildings in the Publix development, which opened in February, have had lights on at night.

“I’ve not heard about anything new coming, but something may be going on,” Bibbee said.

Chuck McGee, vice president of retail development for Teramore Development, said in December that national chains Great Clips and Nail Boutique & Spa signed leases to locate in the development. A Taco Bell already has opened.

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