The Northport City Council on Monday night voted to advance the development of 50 townhomes near Northwood Lake during a contentious meeting at City Hall.

The proposed development, called the Townes at Clearlake, would build 51 new homes with 103 bedrooms on just over five acres of land south of Clearlake Street in Northport.

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The project was proposed by the Builders Group, LLC, a local property development group with roots in Northport and Tuscaloosa County.

Brock Corder, the president of the company, gave a presentation detailing the development Monday night, but his arguments in support of the proposal were drowned out by several dozen Northport citizens who attended the meeting to speak against the new neighborhood.

Those against the development cited concerns about bringing new vehicular traffic to the area, drainage issues, environmental impact, shifts in area property value, school bus routes and more.

Armen Amirkhanian, a dam specialist at the University of Alabama, said two dams in the area show deficiencies in design and current structure. He argued that the proposed townhomes would be in the direct path of water flow should either dam fail, and Amirkhanian said both dams failed during heavy rain events in 2021. The civil engineer said building the homes in the proposed location could lead to death and destruction for future homeowners.

"When one or both dams breach, the loss of life could be catastrophic," Amirkhanian said.

Justin Beams, a geologist and GIS analyst, said he believed the development would exacerbate flooding issues that are becoming more common in the area.

At least 10 more speakers raised their own concerns, from the quality of soil in the area, the sustainability of a homeowner's association, poor traffic flow in the area and more.

Ultimately, though, the council voted 3-2 in favor of granting conditional use approval for the development, which is not a final approval for the project, but will allow the Builders Group, LLC to eventually apply for building permits.

Council members Cristy Bobo, Woodrow Washington and Jeff Hogg voted in favor of the measure. John Hinton and Jamie Dykes voted against it.

In defense of their votes, Hogg and Bobo both argued that there were no issues with the proposed development that fell exclusively under the city's purview to address. In the absence of such issues, Hogg and Bobo said they were morally and ethically compelled to approve the request.

Washington did not take time to explain his vote.

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