City rejects turn lane assistance for developer

A request for assistance with turn lanes off Highway 25 in the amount of $40,000 from Kenny Short of Clanton, developer for the new Fred’s Store in Columbiana, died for lack of a motion at the Columbiana City Council’s regular Tuesday, May 6 meeting.

Short asked for help with what he called an &uot;unexpected&uot; expense with regard to turn lanes off Highway 25 for the Fred’s Store he has built off Alabama Highway 25.

He said that in earlier meetings with Mayor Allan Lowe, who is away on active duty with the military, he understood the city would seek to incorporate the turn lanes with improvements on Highway 25.

But when no action was forthcoming on the $40,000 request, he asked the city for a $12,000 payment for an sewer line easement.

With regard to easement, Short reported on expenses he incurred in striking the sewer line on his property.

Mayor Tom Seale said he expected Public Works Director Hilry King to make a cost effective decision about the sewer.

However, he said, it was likely the city would choose to move it with its own personnel rather than pay Short for the easement.

Columbiana’s new Fred’s opened last week.

During the pre-council session,

Seale told Short the city did look into the possibility of property tax abatement for the new store as well as breaks with regard to sales taxes on construction materials but found that neither was possible.

He also said efforts to include the needed turn lanes as part of a state project on Highway 25 failed.

Seale said the city agreed to waive a sewer tap for the new business; however, &uot;No way did we ever agree to do any kind of turn lanes out there.&uot;

Seale said in the council meeting that the break in the sewer line was never brought to his attention.

Following the council meeting, Councilmember Sherry Rush said of the expense Short faces with regard to a turn lane: &uot;If there was a misunderstanding, I apologize.&uot;

But she also said she would prefer to see a cost estimate to move a sewer line rather than to pay for an easement.

Short said discussion of the sewer line was a moot issue from his point of view.

&uot;I’m just looking for a little help. I think I did my part,&uot; he said.

He also said the store is expected to produce $1.5 million in total sales the first year, creating substantial revenues for the city.

In another matter, the council

agreed to take the repair of sewer problems experienced by homeowners between the curb and the street on a case-by-case basis.

Councilmembers Leslie Whiting Sr. and Tim Billingsley were absent from the meeting