Alabaster holds hearing on redistricting plan

A proposed redistricting map for the city of Alabaster could result in the elimination of a minority voting district.

The Alabaster City Council presented a proposed voting redistricting map during a public hearing held at its Sept. 2 meeting under which the largest black population in any one district is 36.21 percent with a

black voting age population of 35 percent.

A redrawing of voting district maps is based on the latest census results to reflect shifts in population.

However, to give the public a chance to examine the proposal up for consideration, the council continued the public hearing to its next meeting set for Monday, Sept. 15.

The current voting district map, the proposed voting district map and two others are posted for public view at the city’s Albert L. Scott Library.

Currently the largest black majority ward in Alabaster is Ward 1 at 41.21 percent black by population and 40.39 percent black by voting age.

The largest black population ward under the proposed plan is also Ward 1, home of the only current black member of the Alabaster City Council, Bobby Harris.

Under the proposed map, however, that ward will have a white population majority of 62.41 percent and a white voting age majority of 63.56 percent.

According to Council President Rick Walters, the proposed map eliminates unfairly making current members of the council move their residence and prevents splitting wards.

Walters said he and councilmembers Bobby Harris and Henry Hines worked with

hired consultant Bob House.

Among considerations given to come up with the proposed district map were

use of natural boundaries, keeping neighborhoods in tact, wards in tact as much as possible and a reduction of legal challenges.

Proposal three, which is among those maps on view at the library, includes a 67.03 black population majority in Ward 1 with a 66.72 voting age black majority.

Walters said however, that proposal violates the &uot;one man, one vote rule.&uot;

He said wards must be within 5 percent of the mean population.

With the mean at 3,381, proposal three has a population of 1,720 which is about 50 percent below.

Proposal two has a black population majority in Ward 1 of 38.88 percent and voting age black population of 37.41 percent.

Walters said the city will use the old school on U.S. Highway 31 (now the Shelby County Instructional Services building) as the single voting place for municipal elections only.

Todd Goode of 141 Glen Abbey Way commented that the proposed redistricting plan leaves his neighborhood virtually in tact. He also said the homeowner’s association of which he is a part is in favor.

But one black resident of the city said she did not receive any information about the census count.

&uot;I’m sure Weatherly is pleased, but the black community is not.&uot; She said that is &uot;because we need someone to speak for us.&uot;

In another matter, Mayor David Frings announced an employee building committee and a list of architectural firms which have submitted background packages for a new municipal complex.

The employee committee includes from administration, Jimmy Gould, Lori Conklin and Marsha Massey; from court, Sandy Harika; Police Chief Stanley Oliver, Police Capt. Curtis Rigney, Police Sgt. Bailey and Officer Andrew Bryant; from inspection, Becky Posey, Steve Sims and Susie Ward; and from personnel, Clark Boyd.

Architectural firms at this point include: Barry David Architects P.C., Harris & Associates, McCauley Associates Inc., Gresham Smith & Partners, all of Birmingham, Turner & Batson Architects

of Hoover and New South Architects.

Frings said the next step will be to seek architectural proposals and that additional firms will be sought.

The mayor proclaimed Sept. 7-13 as Heroes Week and presented plaques of appreciation to the police chief and fire chief.

The council approved a resolution in support of Jim

&uot;Peanut&uot; Davenport for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

In other matters, the council set three public hearings for October 20.

One public hearing will be held for a rezoning request

from The Grove LLC for about 35 acres off Highway 12 next to Meadowview School from MR (Municipal Reserve) to R-3 for a new subdivision.

A second public hearing will be held on a rezoning request from the Alabaster Industrial Development Board for about 20 acres at the Buck Creek Mill property from M-2 (heavy industrial) to B-3 (community business).

A third public hearing will be held on a rezoning request from Kencar Development for almost nine acres and about eight acres from Municipal Reserve to B-3 and 82 acres from Municipal Reserve to Institutional for a new city park.

The council approved a request for five street lights in Cedar Grove and 18 for the Grand View section as well as

the minutes of the Aug. 18 meeting.

Councilmember Tommy Ryals announced that the next comprehensive plan meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. He said at that time survey results will be discussed.

Among those in attendance at the meeting were I-65, Exit 238 property owners and supporters wearing a T-shirt which read &uot;Do we have property rights in Alabaster? Alabaster mayor and City Council use Eminent Domain to seize private property for Walmart Shopping Center. ‘Sometimes the good of the many has to outweigh the greed of the few’ Councilmember Tommy Ryals. We are not greedy &045; Mr. Ryals. We just want a fair price for our land. What happened to free enterprise and the American Dream. This is America &045; Alabaster.&uot;

Ryals later commented that

the quote was taken out of context