Developer suing city of Alabaster over proposed apartment complex

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Montevallo developer Kenneth Carter has filed a lawsuit against the city of Alabaster, naming the city, Mayor David Frings and Jerry Workman, former city councilman for Ward 1, as defendants in the case.

The suit, which was filed in Birmingham Federal Court June 1, alleges the city and individual defendants denied Carter due process, equal protection and constitutionally protected rights in an effort to halt his plans to build an apartment complex and commercial development.

Carter’s business, Maverick Enterprises, began the process to build the commercial development and apartment complex in 2003.

Greg Morris, city attorney for Alabaster, said the land was divided into two lots, commercial and residential, in 2003 to maximize use of the area, but Carter started and stopped the project several times and failed to follow recommendations made by the city.

Carter contends the project was stalled many times by the city, and that Frings met with Workman and other city officials July 18, 2008, to find a way to stop the project.

Morris said any theory of a conspiracy between the city, the mayor and the city council is unfounded.

“That is absolutely untrue,” Morris said.

Jack Harrison, Carter’s attorney, said the city purposely delayed the process over and over.

“They kept delaying it, delaying and delaying, and now he has nothing left,” Harrison said. “He’s lost everything.”

Morris said he believes had Carter followed through with the process and adhered to city codes, ordinances and recommendations, the development would have eventually been approved.

“I believe he probably would have succeeded,” Morris said. “But he did not do those things.”

Morris said he intends to have the lawsuit dismissed, especially the charges made against Frings and Workman.

“The allegations against them are meritless,” Morris said.

Harrison said the suit does carry merit because in his more than 30 years of working with cities, he has never seen one abuse its power like this.

“Sometimes a city acts like they can do anything they want, and they can’t,” Harrison said.

Harrison will seek a jury trial on Carter’s behalf.