Judge: Saddle Lake petition needs more signatures

A petition seeking to annex the Saddle Lake Farms subdivision into Alabaster needs more signatures before it can move forward, according to the Shelby County probate judge . (File)

A petition seeking to annex the Saddle Lake Farms subdivision into Alabaster needs more signatures before it can move forward, according to the Shelby County probate judge . (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

A petition to annex the Saddle Lake Farms subdivision into Alabaster needs more signatures from neighborhood landowners before an election can be held on the matter, Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister ordered on May 21.

In his order, Fuhrmeister denied the annexation petition, and said not enough people signed the petition for him to schedule an election on the proposed annexation.

“Alabaster desires to annex a land area of 179.9 acres, so the code requires the consent of the persons or entities owning 107.87 acres (60 percent),” read Fuhrmeister’s order. “The court finds that all of the owners of 101.29 acres have signified their consent to the annexation by signing the petition, 6.5 acres short of the statutorily required consents.”

In early May, the Alabaster City Council voted to approve the petition and send it along to Fuhrmeister. If Fuhrmeister had approved the petition, he would have scheduled an election for the neighborhood’s residents in late June or early July, city officials said previously.

If the neighborhood’s residents vote to annex into the city, the neighborhood will no longer be in unincorporated Shelby County, and will be zoned for the Alabaster City School System.

If Saddle Lake 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.

During a May 27 interview, Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said the city is “still analyzing” Fuhrmeister’s order, and said it is “not impossible” for the neighborhood to still be annexed into Alabaster before the upcoming school year starts.

Brumlow said the neighborhood residents must complete another petition conforming to Fuhrmeister’s order and resubmit it to the City Council for consideration.

If the City Council approves the new petition, it will submit it to Fuhrmeister’s office for consideration.

“We are trying to figure out what the issues were with the old petition, and address them in the new one,” Brumlow said. “It’s not impossible (for the subdivision to be annexed before August). It does leave very little margin for error.”

The annexation issue sparked debate among Saddle Lake residents in March, as some said they want to annex into Alabaster to be a part of the Alabaster City School System and others said they do not want to annex for financial and taxation reasons.