Development fears prompt HMC meeting

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

A local watchdog group has set its gaze on a large farm currently for sale, concerned over development prospects. 

The Historic Madison Coalition (HMC) has identified Pritchard Farms, owned by the Pritchard family, as a possible site for future developments since the 1,763-acre farm is currently up for sale. 

The HMC is worried about increased traffic and other negative consequences associated with new developments in Madison’s Historic District. The group is hosting a neighborhood information meeting to discuss the matter this Sunday, Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. in the Church of the Advent Parish House. 

“Come to a neighborhood meeting to learn about future housing developments and potential traffic issues in Madison’s National Register Historic District, such as Pritchard Farm, the 1,763 acres of prime real estate north of the railroad in the city limits that is currently being marketed to builders for a new housing with ingress and egress planned for Kolb Street Crossing and Oil Mill Road,” said the flyer for Sunday’s meeting. “And hear the latest about the western bypass and other issues.”

The Pritchard Farm is being advertised for sale on multiple website and is being represented by Randolph Williamson, a realty company in Atlanta. According to James Clark, a realtor for the firm, the farm has been on the market for several months, but none of the acres have sold. 

“The farm is for sale. There are no developers involved,” said Clark. 

The sale price is listed as $7,000 per acre. The permitted zoning is classified as “Agricultural, Residential and Industrial. 

The HMC is led by Celia Murray, the group’s president. The HMC was founded as a non-profit organization in 2017 after citizens challenged controversial zoning decisions made by the Madison Mayor and City Council, including rezoning the property behind the Historic Foster Thomason Miller House to accommodate a 19-house subdivision. 

The group released a joint statement announcing its launch in 2017.

“The Historic Madison Coalition [is] to help citizens become better informed about historic preservation issues in the City and its Historic District. The Historic Madison Coalition was formed in response to growing concern for the historic integrity of the City arising from two recent debates concerning zoning in the Historic District,” the statement noted. “The first was the proposed Planned Residential Development (PRD) on the Foster-Thomason-Miller property on South Main Street. The second was the rezoning of property on North Avenue from R-1 to R-2 with no input from the Historic Preservation Commission.”

In the past, the HMC has argued that certain kinds of development will harm the Historic District, eroding its character, tourism-appeal, and create population density, traffic, and noise problems.

The HMC sponsored meeting this Sunday at the Church of the Advent’s Parish House is open to the public. The parish house is located at 338 Academy Street in Madison. HMC is encouraging interested citizens to contact them and get involved in the group. To find out more information, e-mail historicmadisoncoalition@gmail.com.

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