Camp Branch approves ‘beat’ zoning

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Residents in the Camp Branch community voted 235-153 during a June 26 election to allow Shelby County officials to enact property zoning in the community.

As a result of the election, residents who live in the unincorporated portion of the Camp Branch community will have zoning laws for the first time in the community’s history, said Shelby County Development Services Manager Ray Hamilton.

The election will affect about 1,300 people in the Camp Branch community, but will not affect those in Alabaster city limits, Hamilton said.

The community held the election because of a 1982 law passed by the Alabama Legislature, Hamilton said.

“There was no zoning in unincorporated Shelby County before 1982. (In 1982), the state Legislature said you can have zoning in unincorporated Shelby County, but not all over the county,” Hamilton said. “It has to be beat-by-beat.”

Before the election, a group of Camp Branch property owners signed a petition asking for a zoning beat in the community and presented it to the Shelby County probate judge. The probate judge then reviewed the petition and called the June 26 election, Hamilton said.

As a result of the issue passing in the election, all properties in the zoning beat will be zoned depending on their current use.

From now on, if a property owner wants to use their property for a purpose inconsistent with the current zoning, they must bring the matter before the Shelby County Planning Commission, Hamilton said.

“Before this, people there could do anything within the law that they wanted to with their property,” Hamilton said. “Now, if they want to change the use of their property, like building a school on property zoned residential, the Planning Commission has to approve it.”