Hearing held to settle eminent domain

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

At least one property owner involved in a settlement of eminent domain proceedings by the city of Alabaster was unhappy without the outcome last Wednesday.

The hearing before Shelby County Probate Judge Patricia Fuhrmeister was called an &uot;ascertainment&uot; hearing to ensure those who would be paid for their property, initially targeted for eminent domain action by the city, were the rightful owners.

The land is located in the Interstate 65, Exit 235 area where Colonial Properties Trust will develop a shopper center and the city of Alabaster is securing land for public facilities.

The property in question was declared &uot;blighted&uot; by the city of Alabaster and was the subject of condemnation proceedings in connection with a redevelopment plan in the Interstate 65, Exit 238 area approved by the city.

While Pelham attorney Jim Pino said his clients were paid &uot;substantially in excess&uot; of appraised property value for their land, Mattie Taylor said, &uot;I let my church down,&uot; because she was unable to have the church replaced.

Taylor was the responsible trustee for Grace Full Gospel Church, which was identified as Grace Baptist Church and located on the &uot;blighted&uot; land.

&uot;I told everyone I wanted that church replaced,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;That money I’m getting … when I get through, I won’t have nothing. The money is for the land, not the church.

&uot;I can’t do anything about what they do to me.&uot;

She said she &uot;can’t sue anybody.&uot;

Judge Fuhrmeister explained to Taylor the matter of the church not being replaced was not before her.

&uot;I have a settlement agreement you signed,&uot; the judge told Taylor during the hearing.

Taylor was sworn in before Fuhrmeister to give testimony that she is the designated trustee of Grace Baptist Church and to answer questions about claims of money owed.

At presstime, the Taylor case remained to be cleared up, according to city attorney Greg Morris.

The city of Alabaster recently took the first step to get construction under way in the Interstate 65, Exit 238 redevelopment area where municipal facilities will be located.

The council recently authorized the issue and sale of 2004 city warrant anticipation notes (bonds) totaling $4.8 million.

According to Morris, the city will use the money to purchase 23.7 acres of land from Shelby Land Partners.

According to the ordinance passed at the time, the land to be purchased includes one section of 10 acres (435,600 square feet) and an additional 13.7 acres (596,777 square feet) for a through road.

Pino, who previously stated his fee agreement with his clients in the eminent domain proceedings was confidential also stated that settlement agreements with his clients were &uot;confidential.&uot;

The ascertainment cases before Fuhrmeister involved property owners Ernest S. Wright and Mary Wright, Elizabeth Swain, Mattie Taylor and Grace Baptist Church