CALERA, Ala. (WIAT) – The Calera Planning Commission decided to hold off on approving development of another neighborhood after a strong community turnout at its meeting Tuesday night.
Residents voiced concern of ongoing traffic issues in the community. Calera is almost halfway between Montgomery and Birmingham, so many people commute to their jobs from here and worry that bringing hundreds of more families could make it worse.
Potential development of the Aberdeen neighborhood would bring about 670 new homes across from Calera Middle School on County Road 22.
“I can’t leave any earlier,” resident Jessica Sheffield said. “My kids get on the bus at 7:12 a.m. so I leave once they get on the bus and I’m sure a lot of parents have that same scenario.”
It’s the potential of more traffic buildup to get to I-65 each morning that has Jessica Sheffield concerned. She said her drive is only about two miles but can take anywhere from 10 to 30 plus minutes each morning.
“We need these roads widened and then we’ll welcome the growth,” Sheffield said.
According to city leaders, most of the roads are owned by Shelby County or the state – so they don’t have the authority to fix them.
“The sad thing about road construction is it’s like schools, i’s reactionary,” City Engineer Chris Pappas said. “You’ve got a limited amount of money and a lot of projects that need to be done.”
Pappas said city council approved the Aberdeen neighborhood in 2008, but the plans changed a bit for fewer homes earlier in 2021.
“It’s not like we were out asking them ‘hey we’re ready for you to come build this’ but it’s their property and it’s zoned, so they met those requirements,” Pappas said.
Residents said they welcome growth, but only if the city has the right infrastructure to handle it.
“We would love for Calera to grow but you’ve gotta do it the right way,” Sheffield said. “You gotta expand the infrastructure and the roads before you add the people because once the people are here it’s 10 times harder to do those road improvements.”
The planning commission decided to table the decision Tuesday until the city attorney can tell them if the council must see the new plans for the neighborhood or not.
City leaders encourage residents concerned about traffic to contact county and state leaders to voice their concern.