Eminent domain settlement reached Eight of 10 landowners agree to sell

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2004

It was smiles all around at Alabaster City Hall last week following the settlement of eminent domain litigation in the Interstate 65, Exit. 238 area between landowners represented by Pelham attorney Jim Pino, Shelby Land Partners and the city of Alabaster.

Eight of 10 families involved in an eminent domain battle over property agreed to sell to the city and Shelby Land Partners on Monday, Dec. 29. On Tuesday, Dec. 30, the Alabaster City Council met in special session to approve resolutions to move the city redevelopment plan forward.

Land in the I-65, Exit 238 area was being sought from residents in connection with a commercial development and new city facilities.

At present, commitments for the commercial development include Walmart and Belk’s.

&uot;Our goal from the beginning has been to make the city of Alabaster a better

place for all of its residents to live,&uot; Mayor David Frings said.

Colonial Properties Trust plans to build an 800,000-square-foot shopping center on about 400 acres of property at the intersection. The city plans a municipal facility as well.

In accordance with the decision by eight property owners represented by Pino to sell their land, the City Council approved a resolution to dismiss a lawsuit against Ernestine Oden and Emma and Lillie Spence, the only two holdouts.

Pino’s clients included James E. Hall,

Brenda A. Hall, Clifton Taylor, Mattie L. Taylor, Earnest S. Wright, Mary L. Wright, Clarence Oden, Ernestine Oden, Elizabeth Swain, Lillie Spence and Carrie Spence.

Frings said the proposed commercial development

for the area &uot;will be the largest shopping center in Alabaster.&uot;

&uot;With the major tenants that have already committed, this shopping center has the makings of a first class retail power center,&uot; he said.

In the special meeting held Dec. 30 with all councilmembers present except Jim McClain, the Alabaster City Council unanimously approved several resolutions to put the commercial development and the future site of city facilities on track.

The council resolved to adopt a resolution agreement with Shelby Land Partners LLC including:

* The city determined that the property is a blighted area.

* The city finalized an agreement with Rice Oil to purchase the BP Station property for $1.54 million.

* The city acknowledged that it is proceeding with efforts to condemn and obtain condemned property (now friendly condemnations in light of settlement with landowners).

* The city agreed to present the developer with each of the properties in exchange for city facility properties.

* The city agreed to purchase from the developer right-of-way/utilities properties for $457,400 by March.

* The city agree to construct a public road on the property.

The council also approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to install a traffic signal at U.S. Highway 31 and Interstate Drive.

In addition, the council approved a resolution to borrow $2.75 million from Southtrust Bank to construct city facilities on the property such as a city hall, public library and public safety facilities.

Following the actions of the council, councilmembers took the opportunity to comment on the turn of events that cleared the way for the I-65, Exit 238 development.

&uot;Three years ago, each of us ran for office. First and foremost on the agenda was economic development for the city,&uot; said Councilmember Michael Sherwood.

He said everyone had input, and the process was more difficult for some than others.

Councilman Henry Hines echoed Sherwood in saying that the public wanted a clean city and retail development without having too far to drive.

He commended Cam Ward, executive director of the Alabaster Industrial Development Board, for his hard work on retail development.

But Hines stressed that it was all &uot;a team effort.&uot;

Councilmember Tommy Ryals said, &uot;Regardless of public perception, our goal was to make this as much of a win-win for everybody possible. I think we accomplished that.&uot;