Alabaster delays action to remove gate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Alabaster city officials have agreed to a two-week delay to try and reach a compromise with residents of two subdivisions.

Officials voted Monday night to withhold a vote to remove an iron gate blocking the road between the Shalimar and Summerbrook subdivisions in the city.

Officials also agreed to move &uot;cautiously&uot; following approval to enforce some general code violations within the city’s police jurisdiction but outside the city limits.

The votes on both actions were unanimous in the absence of councilmembers Jerry Workman and Angela Moseley during Monday night’s regular meeting.

The vote regarding the iron gate came on a motion by Councilmember Rick Walters. Walters, who serves as council president, had passed the gavel to Councilmember Jim McClain to make the motion he could not make while serving as council president.

An earlier motion by Walters not to remove the gate died for lack of a second.

While the removal of the gate did not appear on Monday night’s council agenda, Walters previously requested at a council work session that the public be allowed to speak on the matter before action was taken.

And Monday night, several residents took the opportunity to express concerns about removal of the gate that has been in place for about 10 years.

City Administrator Tony Rivera stated the city of Alabaster has committed to go beyond the placement of rumble strips to slow traffic between the subdivisions if the gate is removed. He said signs will be posted indicating &uot;local traffic&uot; and &uot;no outlet,&uot; and police will patrol the area.

Fire Chief Frank Matherson said he believed the iron gate had been a violation since the day it was placed between the subdivisions. Specifically, he said, it is in violation of the 2003 Alabama Fire Code.

&uot;My job is the safety of the citizens of Alabaster. This poses a hazard. Either the gate has got to go or the road’s got to go. It could be a criminal negligence on my part,&uot; Matherson said.

&uot;If there is a road, the law is clear. It shall not be blocked. I understand the passion behind this. I am real sorry if it has caused any ill feelings.&uot;

City attorney Greg Morris said the gate separates dedicated right-of-way and the code is clear on such matters.

He also said he could not advise the city to vacate the road, indicating that would circumvent concerns the chief has and would eventually become an issue as well.

Morris agreed.

&uot;We believe the gate has to come down.&uot; But he added, &uot;That is not to say we can’t explore other alternatives. We will try to find something that works.&uot;

One resident, a wheelchair-user, expressed concern for children if the road should be opened to through traffic.

&uot;I am worried about the children. I’m worried about the cars,&uot; she said.

&uot;If you decide to put those barricades, the bumps … if it does pass, what side of the pavement is going to stop me?&uot;

She said if the bumps are too high, &uot;I can’t get around my neighborhood.&uot;

While other residents complained about lack of notification of the city’s plans regarding the gate, Rivera said a letter sent to residents regarding a compromise on the matter by Walters served as notification.

Resident Kevin Giles said his subdivision did not want signs stating &uot;local traffic.&uot; Rather, he said, residents in his area would like signs indicating &uot;no traffic&uot; and &uot;dead end.&uot;

&uot;Rumble strips will not stop anyone,&uot; he said.

Walters said the city is doing its best to satisfy all parties including the fire chief, the insurance company and residents.

At a previous council meeting, a public hearing was held concerning enforcement of general code violations in the city’s police jurisdiction.

Still, Walters allowed the public the opportunity to speak for or against the action and no one responded.

In moving to approve the matter, Councilmember Mike Sherwood placed two contingencies on the vote … one, not to extend into the police jurisdiction until areas inside the city are adequately serviced and two, to work out an agreement between the city and the county defining the responsibilities of each and including maps of the areas in question.

Ryals said he could see benefits as well as confusion from the action and said the city will be cautious keeping an eye on the situation as details are worked out.

He said state law allows cities to enforce certain ordinances within the police jurisdiction.

During a recent work session, Mayor David Frings said enforcement of certain codes in the police jurisdiction would not only allow the city to enforce nuisance violations but give the city the right to review building plans with regard to such matters as flooding hazards.

In other matters the council:

Approved a retail liquor license application for Haba&110;eros Mexican Grill at Colonial Promenade.

Set a public hearing for Aug. 15 on an annexation request for property located at 970 Mission Hills Road.

Approved the Wide Area Rapid Notification System which can be used in times of crisis or missing child notification.

Approved an expense of $47,000 for roof repairs at three fire stations, the municipal annex and the library.

Approved an additional expense of up to $50,000 for construction of a skate park at Veterans Park. This is in addition to $100,000 previously approved by the city and $200,000 from the county plus a match of the city’s $50,000 additional cost contribution.

Set a public hearing for Aug. 15 on the annexation of

more than 16 acres recently purchased by the city.

Set a work session for 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the City Services Building