The Lamar County Board of Supervisors has decided to postpone a decision regarding whether to lift a previously-mandated moratorium on building additional multi-family housing developments in the county.
The item had been put on the board’s agenda for the Aug. 1 regular meeting, but board members pushed it forward to the next meeting in order to get more information on the measure. That meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. August 18.
“It’ll be on the agenda again next time; they just didn’t take action on it (at this meeting),” county administrator Jody Waits said. “(Board members) have asked for more information from our planning department regarding the R-3 zoning, which is where apartments and multi-family houses area allowed to be located.
“They’ve got some questions regarding the R-3 district, as far as where the R-3 district exists now, and where there may be a need for that zoning in other parts of the county.”
Multi-family residential housing is defined as housing in which multiple separate units for residential inhabitants are contained within one building, or several buildings within one complex. Units can be placed next to each other or stacked on top of each other.
Often the building is divided to accommodate the multiple families living there, which can consist of a duplex, homes or small apartment buildings.
“Multi-family is a building is a building that has separate living areas in it, under one roof,” Waits said. “That would be the short version of the definition.”
The moratorium, which has been in effect for approximately six years, was originally passed because of several problems caused by high-density population in parts of the county.
“In certain areas of the county, it was just creating stress on the infrastructure, the roads and the school system,” Waits said in a previous story. “So they’ve been studying the (county’s) comprehensive plan on how to account for that in the future, and they still need a little bit more time.”
Back in mid-2019, supervisors decided to maintain the moratorium at Oak Grove Place Apartments, located at 2000 Oak Grove Road. At that time, Colby Herrington of Herrington Realty – the Mobile, Alabama, company that transformed the old Greentree Apartments at that address into the Oak Grove Place apartments – stopped by a board meeting to request a waiver to allow the addition of several single-bedroom units at that location.
Herrington’s request was denied after supervisors decided they didn’t want to set a precedent for other developers in the county.
“What ya’ll did there with (Oak Grove Place) is phenomenal – the improvement that you made to that area is absolutely phenomenal,” District 1 Supervisor Steve Lampton told Herrington. “But I don’t want to open up a can of worms, where everybody that’s investing into multi-housing family in Lamar County comes to us wanting exceptions to the ordinance.
“We extended that moratorium for two years, and in the three-and-a-half years it’s been on the board, I’ve only heard one complaint about the lack of multi-family housing in Lamar County. I think a lot of the reason why your occupancy is so good is because the market’s there, and if we swing this door wide open and start building a whole lot of multi-family housing, then we’re putting burdens on our school system and creating a lot of problems that we’re not dealing with now.”