Progress: like it or not

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

By Brandon Gresham/Reporter Staff Writer

It’s become a common theme at city council meetings around Shelby County.

Every two weeks, angry residents fill their local city halls to fight rezoning requests, business applications and city actions.

Whether it’s the new office complex proposed for just down the road or the big strip mall on the other side of town, rarely do you see a project passing nowadays without some opposition from residents.

The buzz around Shelby County is that we’re growing. From the ever-extending corridor along 280 to the shopping centers going up along Interstate 65, our county has established itself as a state leader in growth and improvement.

The progress is hard to keep track of. One day you drive by an empty field, the next day it’s a Wal-Mart Supercenter. It’s an exciting time for a county whose residents in past years have had to rely on the strenuous commute to Birmingham to meet shopping and entertainment needs.

With this influx of new business and residents come a number of great benefits. Better schools, better roadways and a better way of life are always right around the corner.

Yet you can still head to your local city council meeting and find residents upset over the building of new stores and the creation of new subdivisions.

These are the same people who are excited about the new movie theater they can go to in Alabaster or the fact that in a few years their kids will be moving into a state-of-the-art elementary school. But when changes come too close to their homes and communities, and when the faces neighborhoods have known for years begin to change, you can find them beating down the mayor’s door and asking the city council to run someone out of town.

Change is hard. Nobody’s arguing that point.

But if residents of Shelby County want to have the convenience of great shopping and good schools, you’re going to have to deal with the impending “makeover” coming to a neighborhood and community near you.

Traffic is going to get heavier and the industrial building that’s being built down the street from your house is going to look ugly.

But it’s unfair for residents to enjoy the profits and luxuries their local governments have worked hard to provide, just to turn around and ask for their mayor’s resignation when the Shell Station goes up down the block.

Gas prices alone should make every county resident thankful for the stores, restaurants and industries that are popping up all over the county. People are commuting less and now there’s usually a grocery store within 10 minutes of home.

These are blessings that this county could have only dreamed of a decade ago, and every resident who has a problem with change should take a step back and picture what it would be like to live in Shelby County without the blessings of progress.

Brandon Gresham serves as staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at