Sat Jul 30 00:33:36 PDT 2016
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Highlands homeowners vote to spend $1.2 million in effort to keep apartments out
Ken Curtis

A majority of home owners in the affluent Highlands subdivision voted to purchase 12-acres of land in an effort to prevent construction of an income based apartment complex. Kathleen Ferrell, spokesperson for Regency Management, said she has notified property owner Hugh Wheelless of the results after they were made public Monday evening. The vote comes amid concerns regarding Wheelless’ plan to sell land near the front entrance of the upscale neighborhood—with more than 400 homes-- to developer Gary Hall. A letter dated May 13 sent by the homeowner’s association to Highlands’ residents states, “Mr. Wheelless said the he would sell us the 12.1 acres for $1.2 million. He also stated that Mr. Hall was receptive to terminating his option contract with him, to allow Highlands Owners Association (HOA) to purchase the land.” However, Wheelless, speaking to WTVY before the vote was announced, said he has a contract with Hall and he intends to honor it. He did not rule out that Hall would back out of the deal. A meeting was held last week between Wheelless, Hall, and Mayor Mike Schmitz seeking a resolution. Afterwards, Schmitz said he believes Hall is sensitive to the situation, especially since he is a Dothan native. The mayor told homeowners last week they may be overreacting noting that, in Schmitz’s opinion, Hall is a reputable developer who constructs and operates first class developments. However, his claims were met with skepticism. Many who live in the Highlands believe values of their homes—some in the millions of dollars-- would decrease if income based apartments are constructed. The homeowners association will secure a loan that will be paid back by higher dues.

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