How would Pelham de-annexation work?

Jason Rhoads and several other Chelsea parents said they are considering de-annexing from Pelham during a recent public hearing. (File)

Jason Rhoads and several other Chelsea parents said they are considering de-annexing from Pelham during a recent public hearing. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

All of a neighborhood’s residents must agree to de-annex from Pelham before the action can move forward, Pelham City Attorney Butch Ellis said on June 26.

During a June 17 public hearing, several Pelham residents currently zoned for Chelsea schools spoke out against being rezoned for Pelham schools if Pelham one day breaks away from the Shelby County School System to form its own city school system.

During the public hearing, the residents said they were considering de-annexing from the city if Pelham moves forward with forming its own school district.

Many residents in neighborhoods off Shelby County 11 voiced concern about the distance from their homes to the closest Pelham school.

Pelham Council members Karyl Rice and Ron Scott encouraged the residents to petition Pelham for de-annexation if they were concerned about being rezoned to Pelham schools.

In order to seek de-annexation from Pelham, all residents from a neighborhood would have to agree to de-annex, Ellis said during a June 26 interview.

“If you’ve got a neighborhood that has 100 people in it, and 60 of them want to de-annex, you can’t draw a line around that very well,” Ellis said. “You’ve got to have 100 percent of the neighborhood in agreement.”

If a neighborhood agrees to de-annex from the city, Pelham’s leaders would have multiple options for possibly de-annexing the neighborhoods.

The Pelham City Council could vote to de-annex the residents, or could put the decision to a citywide referendum. The Alabama Legislature also could pass a bill allowing the residents to de-annex from the city.

“I don’t think the City Council is far enough along in the (city schools) process to even consider how they would go about it,” Ellis said.

June 25 changes to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 could make the de-annexation process easier. As a result of the changes, Pelham and cities throughout the state no longer must preapprove annexations or de-annexations with the U.S. Justice Department.

The third public hearing on the Pelham city school proposal is scheduled for July 8 at 7 p.m. at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena.