Alabaster considers ‘drastic measures’ to repair neighborhood roads

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Alabaster City Council is considering ceasing issuing building permits in some city neighborhoods to force several developers to bring their subdivision streets up to city standards.

The announcement came during a Jan. 21 City Council meeting, during which the council set a public hearing on the matter for Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. at the Alabaster City Hall Annex off First Street Northwest.

During the public hearing, city officials will hear from Alabaster residents, builders and developers before the council decides if it will issue a moratorium on the issuance of building permits in the Grandview, Fox Valley, Golden Meadow, Cloverdale, Lake Bridge, Lake Forrest, Lacey’s Grove and Tanglewood by the Creek subdivisions and residential areas near the Saginaw Commercial Park.

If passed, the moratorium would halt all development in the neighborhoods until the subdivision owners brought their heavily worn residential roads to city standards, according to Alabaster Mayor David Frings.

“This would be a drastic move, but we are at a point now where drastic moves have to be considered,” Frings told the council. “It has gotten to a very, very drastic position.”

Alabaster officials have been attempting to force some subdivision owners to repair the neighborhood roads for more than a year.

Because some developers have abandoned their neighborhoods and cut off communication with the city, Alabaster officials have been forced to file lawsuits against some of the subdivision owners.

However, the city usually is only able to obtain bond money put up by the developer when they began constructing in the city. In most cases, the bond money does not cover the cost of road repairs, and the city is forced to pay the remaining amount, Frings said.

The city must also go through court to obtain the bond money, which can sometimes take several years, the mayor added.

“One of the things we go after first is the bond. But every time we go to get the bond money, we have to go to court,” Frings said. “We need to go about a different way of guaranteeing that money from the developer, because the bond just isn’t working.

“A few of the developers have performed some tasks (to repair the roads), but most have done nothing that they’ve promised,” Frings added.

In other business, the council also:

Denied a request by Shelby Land Partners to rezone 19.4 acres off Alabaster Boulevard to multi-family residential.

If the council had approved the rezoning request, Shelby Land Partners would have moved forward with constructing a 144-unit senior adult apartment complex.

Though Jim Jackson, with Shelby Land Partners, told the council the project would mark a $20 million investment in the city, the council denied the request 4-3 after several residents of the Weatherly neighborhood voiced concerns of decreased property values and increased traffic.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Sophie Martin, Ward 3 Councilman Adam Moseley, Ward 4 Councilman Rick Walters and Ward 7 Councilman Tommy Ryals voted in favor of denying the request, and Ward 2 Councilman Bob Hicks, Ward 6 Councilman Scott Brakefield and Ward 5 Councilman and Board President Jim McClain and voted against denying the request.

Approved a city financial management policy, which will “serve as a road map” for building the city’s reserve fund from its current balance of $500,000 to the city’s goal of $2.5 million.

Accepted a $55, 815 bid to purchase seven lawnmowers for the Alabaster Parks and Recreation Department.

Accepted a $32,921 bid to purchase a compact utility loader with accessories for the Parks and Recreation Department.