Eminent domain headed to court Mediation efforts between Alabaster, residents fail

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Pelham attorney Jim Pino says mediation efforts between the city of Alabaster and his clients in connection with an eminent domain action currently the subject of pending federal and county court action have been unsuccessful.

As a result, Pino said, the cases will

go to court.

However, Alabaster Councilmember Tommy Ryals has said the commercial development in the area will continue without the land, now the subject of eminent domain proceedings.

He stressed the development area (slated to include a Wal-mart Supercenter and a Belk department store) does not hinge on the success of eminent domain action in that area.

So, the question arises &045; why does the city of Alabaster still want the property held by Pino’s clients?

The city of Alabaster has taken property owners to Shelby County Probate Court who did not settle for the sale of their land in the city’s Interstate 65/Exit 238 Urban Redevelopment Plan area.

Pino, in turn, filed a motion for the Shelby County Probate Court to wait to rule on the condemnation proceedings pending the outcome of a federal case on behalf of landowners in the area which he represents.

City attorney Greg Morris also recently filed a motion seeking mediation in the cases in probate court. And Shelby County Probate Judge Patricia Yeager Fuhrmeister recently took both motions under advisement.

As of Monday, however, Pino said there have been no developments in federal or probate court.

However, he said of mediation efforts, &uot;We had two full days, about 20 hours of hard negotiation, through former Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cook, but we were unable to bridge the gap between the two sides.&uot;

According to Pino and court records, Pino’s clients include James E. and Brenda A. Hall, 100 Interstate Drive; Clifton and Mattie L. Taylor, 101 Interstate Drive;

Ernest S. and Mary L. Wright, 21 Stacey Drive; Clarence and Earnestine Oden, 75 Interstate Drive; Lillie and Carrie Spence, sisters who reside at 686 Interstate Drive; and Elizabeth Swain, Pumphouse Road, all in Alabaster.

When asked why the city still wants the land held by Pino clients, Greg Morris, Alabaster city attorney

responded, &uot;The reason the city is moving forward on the Pino clients’ property is that it needs to be redeveloped. Those properties need to come into conformity with the redevelopment plan.

&uot;We are still willing to work with Mr. Pino and his clients. And we are hopeful we can get a solution before we go to trial Nov. 20.&uot;

Nov. 20 is the date the Alabaster eminent domain complaints are set to be heard in Shelby County Probate Court.

Morris also noted that the recent mediation efforts were voluntary between the parties.

&uot;We hope to get another opportunity to mediate prior to trial.&uot;