Road battle continues with group appealing board’s approvalBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Gluckstadt residents supporting the area’s incorporation efforts are fighting the Madison County board of supervisors’ recent decision to allow another access point to Church Road from a property across from Germantown High School.
The property is being developed by Ron Hutchinson, John Harreld and Annette Harreld, who previously appealed the trial results that granted Gluckstadt the ability to incorporate, resulting in approximately two more years of legal battles.
The property in question currently has a bypass road that connects to Calhoun Station Parkway. The supervisors unanimously approved the property owners’ request to remove a restriction, which required that the bypass road end in a cul-de-sac.
By removing that restriction, which was set in place in 2015 when the property was rezoned from residential to C-2, the property owners can now extend the bypass road out to Church Road.
The supervisors had to find that there had been a change of character in the area significant enough to warrant a reclassification. There also had to be a public need for the change.
They reasoned that there has been substantial change of character in the area, citing growth and the fact that the road has been widened. Public need was also identified, as patrons would need access to enter and exit the development once it is complete.
Gluckstadt attorney John Scanlon filed an appeal with the circuit court in Madison County on behalf of the incorporators and Gluckstadt residents Kerry Minninger and Jay McKay against the board’s decision, as they do not believe there was substantial evidence or public need.
“My feeling is that the board of supervisors failed to meet the requirement to show the change of character in the neighborhood and public need,” Minninger said.
The appeal also states, “school traffic will be adversely affected by this road and from the removal of the 2015 agreed-upon rezoning conditions.”
Neel-Schaffer engineers recently conducted a traffic study based on the developer’s proposed land uses, which included 625,000 square feet of retail and commercial development and 225,000 square feet of office space.
Between the added retail and commercial development and office space, Church Road could see an additional 23,216 trips by travelers daily. However, once businesses have been identified for that site, there would need to be an additional traffic study and site plan process to determine the need for a traffic control device.
In addition to those extra trips added to that area each day, Germantown High School, which is located across from the property in question, sees a steady increase in enrollment each year.
Approximately 1,084 students were enrolled in grades nine through 12 for the 2016-17 school year.
As of July 22, 1,265 students have been enrolled at the high school for the 2019-20 school year. The school has an average of 500 student drivers each year, according to Principal Wesley Quick.
The Gluckstadt incorporators have been involved in litigation for a number of years working toward their goal of Gluckstadt becoming a city.
“If successful in their appeal, the incorporators will become the residents, voters and public officials of the city of Gluckstadt, and the city will eventually have power of zoning and land use regulation, as well as jurisdiction of certain streets and roads, including Church Road, Calhoun Station and the proposed street extension permitted by the board of supervisors on July 15,” the appeal reads.
Minninger and McKay are also homeowners near the affected parcel of land and regularly travel on Church Road.
McKay spoke out against the issue at the July 15 meeting, citing traffic and safety as two large reasons not to connect the bypass to Church Road.