Eminent domain settled despite disagreement

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2004

&uot;I wasn’t agreeable, but I signed to get it over because I’m tired,&uot; said Elizabeth Swain, one of the last holdouts in the settlement of an eminent domain dispute between landowners and the city of Alabaster.

The land in dispute is located in a redevelopment area for retail stores and municipal facilities at Interstate 65 and Exit 238.

The dispute was virtually brought to a close last week with settlement of six condemnation suits, including a last-minute settlement with Swain, the dismissal of two condemnation suits and the continuance of four others before Shelby County Probate Judge Patricia Fuhrmeister.

Cases were settled with clients represented by Pelham attorney Jim Pino: Mattie S. Taylor and Clifton Taylor and Grace Baptist Church, Elizabeth Swain, Mary and Ernest W. Wright, James E. and Brenda A. Hall.

Cases were dismissed against Pino clients Ernestine and Clarence Oden and Lillie B. Spence.

Pino told the court he intended to file a petition for attorney’s fees and litigation expenses in the two dismissed cases.

Cases were continued against Bobbie Jean Cohill; the estate of Mary Hall; Plaza Pines LLC; and Estella Mae Hamiel.

Alabaster city attorney Jeffrey W. Brumlow explained the reason for the continuance of cases. He said an obituary for Estella Mae Hamiel revealed the existence of niece who must be contacted.

He asked the case against Plaza Pines be continued because Shelby Land Partners was expected to purchase that property.

Brumlow also said Shelby Land Partners is purchasing the interest of Cohill and Hall and did not expect any objections from Shelby Land Partners.

Following the proceedings, Fuhrmeister said: &uot;I know all the lawyers here are glad to have this taken care of and folks here (clients who attended the court proceedings) are glad to have this taken care of.&uot;

Alabaster Mayor David Frings and City Council president Rick Walters attended the hearings on Jan. 15.

&uot;We can move forward (with the commercial construction) and start breaking ground,&uot; he said.

However, with regard to city facilities proposed for the area, he said: &uot;We’ve got a lot to work out for the city’s part.&uot;

Walters said the city had no designs for municipal facilities at this point.

Frings said pressing needs for the city include a city hall and a police station. And Walters said the city is still considering a new library.

Following the hearings, Pino expressed his pleasure.

&uot;I’m very pleased with the outcome of the cases. My clients who wanted to sell were paid what we feel is a fair price for their property,&uot; he said. &uot;Those who did not want to sell also got what they wanted &045; cases against them were dismissed and they got to keep their property.

&uot;We got what we wanted and the developer ended up with property they needed to have.&uot;

But there was also a negative side to the condemnation suit outcome.

&uot;To say my clients were happy would not be accurate,&uot; Pino said.

&uot;No one would be happy having to go through this condemnation the last six months and giving up their homes and moving to another area.&uot;

But he said, &uot;We made sure the ones who are moving are doing so voluntarily and are being paid adequate compensation.&uot;

Pino refused to reveal the percentage of the settlement he will receive as his fee, indicating fee arrangements between he and his clients is confidential