House: Saddle Lake decision was for ‘children’

Published 2:49 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Alabama House of Representatives likely will pass a bill to allow Saddle Lake residents to vote on annexing into Alabaster. (File)

The Alabama House of Representatives likely will pass a bill to allow Saddle Lake residents to vote on annexing into Alabaster. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

The Alabama House of Representatives will pass a bill allowing residents in the Saddle Lake subdivision to decide if they want to annex into Alabaster primarily to keep the neighborhood’s students in their current schools next year, according to local House representatives.

In a letter signed by state Reps. Mary Sue McClurkin, April Weaver, Jim Cairns, Mike Hill, Jim McClendon and Kurt Wallace – all of who represent parts of Shelby County – the local delegation said they made their decision based on the students in the neighborhood.

The House likely will pass the bill on April 1 after the local House delegation agreed to support it in mid-March. If passed by the House and signed by the governor, the bill will annex an about 40-acre piece of property adjacent to Saddle Lake Farms into Alabaster, making the neighborhood contiguous to Alabaster city limits.

If the legislative annexation is approved, it would allow Saddle Lake residents to begin a petition to annex into Alabaster. If the petition receives the required number of signatures, neighborhood residents could then present the petition to the Alabaster City Council to consider.

If the council receives the petition with the required number of signatures, it likely will vote on the matter during an upcoming meeting, council members said previously.

If the neighborhood is not in Alabaster city limits for the upcoming school year, some students in the neighborhood would be rezoned for Columbiana schools as a result of separation negotiations between the Alabaster and Shelby County school systems.

“We want to say to all the citizens that live in SLF, we are continuing to work to resolve the situation in an amenable way for all the citizens of that community, including those that don’t want their property annexed,” read the letter.

The House delegation wrote the “issue should never have gotten to the Alabama Legislature to render a decision. It should have been handled by the local governing bodies that were elected to meet the needs of their citizens.”

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the bill “will not force anyone to be annexed into Alabaster.”

“I disagree with the characterization that we have been forced into this,” Ward said during a March 25 interview. “That’s part of our job, to make the tough decisions sometime.

“I disagree with some of the things that were said, but at the end of the day we will still work together as a legislative delegation,” Ward said.

A statement prepared by the Alabaster mayor and members of the City Council thanked the Legislature for supporting the annexation bill.

“All things considered, the city thanks the Shelby County delegation for agreeing to pass the legislative annexation,” read the statement. “We would like to specifically thank Senator Cam Ward for sponsoring this legislation.”