Developer files suit against Alabaster

The city of Alabaster is being sued over the denial of a rezoning request at a previous city council meeting.

The civil action suit was filed Oct. 24 in the Circuit Court of Shelby County by Ashbury Associates LTD.

On Sept. 16, the Alabaster City Council voted 4-3 to deny the request to re-zone an 11-and-a-half acre plot of land for an apartment complex off Highway 119.

Ashbury Associates is seeking reversal of the denial and an unspecified amount of compensation for damages.

Alabaster attorneys and city officials declined to comment until the court process is complete.

Ashbury Associates purchased the undeveloped land in February with the intention to build a 99-unit apartment complex on the property.

At that time the land was not located in the city limits but considered part of Beat 21, an area

of unincorporated land between Alabaster and Montevallo near Shelby County Highway 17 and Alabama Highway 119.

On April 9, Beat 21 residents voted to subject the area to the authority of the Shelby County Planning Commission, which later zoned the property A-1 Agricultural District.

In June, the Alabaster City Council voted unanimously to annex the property owned by Ashbury Associates.

Tommy Ryals, who serves on both the Alabaster Planning Commission and City Council, is mentioned in parts of the complaint; however, he is not individually listed as a defendant in the case.

The complaint claims that city officials, specifically Ryals, indicated their support of the development and later voted against it.

&uot;They annexed us 7-0 knowing that (the apartment complex) was the only reason we wanted in the city,&uot; said Brad Rounsaville, attorney for Ashbury Associates. &uot;They were for it, as evidenced by their annexation vote (in June).&uot;

Rounsaville said the council’s vote for denial was unfair and misleading after officials showed support in more than 12 months of dealings with Ashbury Associates.

The complaint describes the denial as &uot;arbitrary and capricious&uot; and claims that it violates Ashbury Associates’ due process rights outlined by the Fifth and 14th Amendments

of the U.S. Constitution.

Ryals said at the Sept. 16 council meeting that he voted against the development because he felt that was what the people of his ward wanted him to do.

Several Alabaster residents, many who reside in the Park Forest subdivision, attended the meeting to oppose the development.

Councilmember Bobby Harris voiced his support of the apartments at the meeting.

&uot;I’ve tried for some time to bring apartments into the city,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m going on record for these apartments …&uot;

The council went on to deny the request despite the recommended approval of the Alabaster Planning and Zoning Board.

The zoning hearing was also attended by protesting residents