County, residents split on Camp Branch rezoning request

Published 11:48 am Monday, July 11, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Shelby County officials and residents of Alabaster’s Camp Branch community are split on a proposed plan to allow the county’s Highway Department to remove chert from the community.

The county has asked the Alabaster Planning and Zoning Board to rezone about 27 acres near the intersection of Shelby County 26 and Camp Branch Road from residential to heavy industrial.

If the property is rezoned, the county would then remove chert, a material the county’s Highway Department uses to build roads, from the property, which is owned by the Carmeuse Lime company.

The rezoning request originally came before the Planning and Zoning Board during its June 28 meeting, but the board agreed to delay voting on the matter until its July 26 meeting.

“We gave the board some more time to answer some questions they had,” said Alabaster City Planner Harry Still. “They are exploring alternate locations the county could get chert, and they are also assuring there won’t be any environmental impact.”

If the city rezones the land, the county would be able to excavate the land if it obtains a mining permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Still said.

During a July 11 Shelby County Commission meeting, several Camp Branch residents spoke in opposition to the county’s plans.

Camp Branch resident Bobby Ellison said he fears his community and his personal property values will be negatively impacted if the rezoning request is approved.

“There are 10,000 places the county can get chert besides right there,” Ellison said. “There is lots of history in that community. If they take a mountain down to get the chert, it will ruin the whole community,” Ellison said, noting the town was once used as a camp by the Confederate army.

Ellison was one of about 10 Camp Branch residents to speak against the county’s plans. He said if the plans go through, his property values could decrease by as much as 50 percent overnight.

Others also said they were concerned about property values and health issues, and said the county’s plans shouldn’t move forward.

Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole said he would not comment on the matter until after the July 26 Alabaster Planning and Zoning Board meeting.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Alabaster City Hall Annex, which is off First Street Southwest behind City Hall.