A California development firm has withdrawn its application to build 166 homes just southwest of Miami, negating the need for the city council to make decision regarding annexation of the 44-acre site southwest of the city.

Saddle Creek Development made the announcement Tuesday as the council gathered to address the annexation issue and consider approval of a preliminary subdivision map.

Jerry Langum, a partner and representative of the development corporation, said the developers remain "very committed" to the project.

"There is a need for the project and we have other options to get this project done," Langum said. "We will proceed with those options."

Saddle Creek Development first went public with its intentions in early September and has since met opposition from neighboring property owners and faced a litney of conditions to be met by city engineer Jerry Ruse.

Ginny and David Stinson and and Susan Carlson voiced their concerns before the council last month, citing issues with drainage, floodplain interference and potential liability that could possibly create a burden for the city and, ultimately, tax-paying citizens.

“The leaders of this community need to take the reins and guide this community to safety,” Carlson said as she objected to the proposed preliminary approval of plans. “Approval in its present form should not be granted. It will only result in property loss for the city and future litigation.”

Ruse told council members last month that the list of conditions had been approved by the the city's planning commission that will force the developers to meet state, federal and local mandates.

“What we are trying to do is give him a process that gives him a comfort level to move forward and spend a lot of money in this design and go through the permitting processes,” Ruse said.

Opponents applauded the Oct. 11 council decision to table the matter which they intended to pick back up Tuesday, prior to Langum's announcement that the corporation has made a decision to move on.

When questioned by council member Rudy Schultz regarding "other options," Langum said that he had attempted to contact every council member on Monday, Veterans Day, to talk about the project and no one, with the exception of Mayor Brent Brassfield, returned the phone call. He did not offer any specifics of the other options.

To date, there has been no public meeting at the county level regarding the proposed development.

"I think I can speak for the council when I say that we had concerns about several aspects of the project from the beginning," Brassfield said. "With that said, we do understand the need for housing and it has been a long time since someone has come into the community and proposed to build 168 new homes. Their decision today came as a surprise to all of us.

My apprehension, if they choose to go forward, is that the city will lose control of certain aspects about the building of the project and the maintaining of the properties after the project is completed."

Restrictions, including environmental regulations and code enforcement, are "significantly" reduced for projects outside of the municipal boundaries, according to city officials.

City officials now are concerned that, if developers build a sub-standard project just outside of the city limits, the municipality could inherit "serious problems" if the property is annexed in the future.

Terry Atkinson, whose district holds the proposed site, would not comment on the project or Saddle Creek Developers' decision to withdraw its application.