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Valley Grande ordinances bring residential order

VALLEY GRANDE — A city ordinance passed recently will positively affect residents’ safety and quality of life, according to Valley Grande’s mayor.

The city council will more strictly regulate the creation of residential areas. Mayor Tom Lee said some developers have built subdivisions with unsafe roads, without fire hydrants and that are unsafe for both to people and the environment.

The major problem with some of the developments is that many contain dirt roads. It often makes it difficult for cars, including police and fire vehicles, to travel the thoroughfares.

Also adding to the problem is that several of the roads are private. City or county personnel cannot travel on the roads, much less perform maintenance, without the owners’ permission.

Among several other problem areas are Pear Tree Road, located off Alabama Highway 22 past Pineview Memorial Gardens, and another nearby unnamed, unpaved private road.

“I’ve said this before — it’s 2009, and we’re still letting dirt roads go in. It doesn’t make any sense,” Lee said. “It’s uncalled for to let developers profit from the sale of land without regard for what’s going to happen to the people living there … If we’ve had two or three days of rain, it’s impossible for the fire trucks to get down some of those roads.”

The ordinance applies to the corporate limits of the city and requires developers to follow a process that includes providing an estimated cost of work to complete the project, multiple steps for plat approval, a sketch map, street plans and an application fee.

The new requirements mean higher initial costs for developers, but Lee doesn’t expect that to affect building in the city once the economy bounces back.

“At a minimum, a developer is going to have a higher quality subdivision,” Lee said. “If it’s going to be a trailer park, at least it’s going to have good roads and fire protection.”