Beat 21 voters headed to the polls

Voters from Beat 21 will go to the polls next Tuesday, April 9 to decide whether Shelby County zoning laws will apply to them.

Beat 21 is an area encompassing the southern portion of Alabaster and a northern portion of Montevallo between Shelby County Highway 17 and Alabama Highway 119.

The vote will be held between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at St. Thomas Catholic Church on Highway 119 and will determine whether the unincorporated areas of the beat will be subject to the authority of the Shelby County Planning Commission, its master plan and zoning regulations.

Absentee voting will be made through the office of Circuit Clerk Mary Harris, including on-site absentee voting on Saturday, March 30 between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. at the Shelby County Courthouse.

The election is in response to a petition drive led by about a dozen residents from the Wynlake and Park Forest subdivisions along Highway 119.

The residents, according to Shelby County Probate Judge Patricia Fuhrmeister, secured the necessary 25 percent of the more than 550 registered and property owning voters in the unincorporated area of Beat 21.

Many of the petition organizers are already in Alabaster city limits but helped organize the election nevertheless.

One of those residents, Mike McCormick of the Park Forest subdivision, helped collect signatures even though he cannot vote.

The petition drive, McCormick said, was largely spurred on by a developer’s plan to store repossessed mobile homes on property just outside Alabaster city limits.

Randy Goodwin, owner of Cornerstone Millworks in Alabaster, announced in January his plan to put between 40 and 60 mobile homes on property near Park Forest.

However, Goodwin backed off his plans for the mobile home refurbishing business after local residents and Alabaster city officials expressed their concerns about the project.

&uot;Everybody was against (the mobile home proposal) but it was all unzoned land,&uot; McCormick said. &uot;Any business that wanted to move in, could &045; a pig farm, a chicken plant, a chemical company.&uot;

McCormick said another project, a 96-unit apartment complex under construction just down the road, also has raised concerns from subdivision residents.

McCormick said such a development will cause much more traffic on Highway 119, a road he referred to as &uot;already a death trap.&uot;

He said the developer has also talked of putting in an above-ground sewer system because the area has trouble perking, a necessary component of an underground system.

It was property values, McCormick said, which were key to residents’ concerns.

&uot;Shelby County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country, and many parts of the county have no plan for zoning,&uot; he said.

&uot;No one we talked to turned us down. There is so much value in zoning. Once you explain how it works, people are all for it.

&uot;We know the area is going to grow. We want it to grow. We just don’t want heavy commercial next to residential,&uot; McCormick said.

&uot;We want that area of Shelby County under a plan. Right now, it is hit or miss.&uot;