Pelham council delays vote on repairs to neighborhood roads

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council postponed its vote on a resolution to repair neighborhood roads in the Oaklyn Hills subdivision during its Nov. 1 meeting, after a few council members requested more time to study the project’s bids.

If passed, the resolution would have approved a $167,030 bid from Norris Paving and Asphalt to make repairs and install an asphalt seal coat on roads in phases one through five of the subdivision.

The resolution was on the meeting’s agenda for a first reading, but Councilwoman Teresa Nichols made a motion to suspend the rules of order for the council to vote on the matter during the meeting.

Before Nichols made the motion to suspend the rules, Pelham Mayor Don Murphy encouraged the council to approve the project as quickly as possible.

“The people have suffered out there for a long time with the bad roads,” Murphy said. “It’s time the city does something about that out there. It’s your responsibility.”

Pelham recently finished a trial with the neighborhood’s developer, during which the city sued the developer for the bond money it put up when it broke ground on the neighborhood.

In the settlement, Pelham received a little more than $103,000 in bond money and received ownership of eight vacant lots in the neighborhood.

“We’ve been through the courts with this developer,” Murphy said. “The city got more than $100,000 in bond money, and we also have eight lots signed over to the city of Pelham.

“If we don’t start this project before the bad weather sets in, it may not get done for three, four months,” Murphy added.

But Councilman Steve Powell asked the council to hold the motion until its Nov. 15 meeting to allow council members to review the project’s bids and ensure they are in order before voting on the project.

“This issue has been on the table, to some extent, for two years now,” Powell said. “The sky is not falling. Two weeks is not going to make a huge difference.”

Councilman Bill Meadows asked Murphy to contact him before asking the council to suspend the rules of order.

“I respectfully ask that you call me if you want us to suspend the rules. That would probably resolve a lot of these issues,” Meadows said.

The motion to suspend the rules and vote on the matter during the meeting, which must pass unanimously, failed after Meadows abstained from voting. Councilwoman Karyl Rice and Powell voted against suspending the rules, while Council President Mike Dickens and Nichols voted for the motion.

The council likely will vote on the matter during its Nov. 15 meeting.

In other business, the council passed the city’s fiscal year 2011 Water and Sewer Department capital improvement budgets by a vote of 4-1. Meadows, Rice, Dickens and Nichols voted in favor of passing the budget, and Powell voted against it.

The projects funded in the budgets include $2.45 million in upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and about $2.1 million in water line upgrades on Shelby County 33 and 35 and Alabama 119.

Powell said he would not feel comfortable voting on the capital improvement budget until seeing a list of projects the Water and Sewer Department is planning over the next several years.

“I don’t see a good vision of where this is going in the future,” Powell said. “I don’t think we are in a position to vote on this mater.”

But Dickens said the council should pass the matter because it included projects to be funded by a recent water and sewer rate increase in the city.

“A previous rate increase was put in place to facilitate these upgrades,” Dickens said. “We have to move forward with what we predicated this rate increase on.”