Saddle Lake annexing into Alabaster, city school system

Saddle Lake Farms residents react as the results of an annexation election are posted at the neighborhood's poling place on July 29. As a result of the election, the neighborhood will be annexed into Alabaster. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Saddle Lake Farms residents react as the results of an annexation election are posted at the neighborhood’s polling place on July 29. As a result of the election, the neighborhood will be annexed into Alabaster. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

SAGINAW – Alabaster’s population grew by about 450 people on July 29, as residents of the Saddle Lake Farms subdivision voted in favor of annexing from unincorporated Shelby County into Alabaster.

During the election, which was open to all Saddle Lake Farms residents who had been living in the neighborhood for at least three months prior to July 29, residents voted 211-54 in favor of annexing into the city, including absentee balots.

The annexation means the neighborhood is now zoned for the Alabaster City School System starting with the upcoming school year. If Saddle Lake hadn’t annexed into the city, some students in the neighborhood would have been rezoned for Columbiana schools as a result of separation negotiations between the Alabaster and Shelby County school systems.

A group of about 15 Saddle Lake residents gathered at a house serving as the neighborhood’s poling place as a Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputy posted the election results to a “Vote Here” yard sign in front yard.

“We felt like it would turn out like this,” said neighborhood resident Steve Hawk, who voted in favor of annexation. “I think it’s really more of an issue for the smaller kids and their parents. They would have had to drive south for 20 minutes to get to school.”

Dana Clement said she was “very excited” about the outcome of the election, and said it will bring a result some Saddle Lake residents have been working toward for years.

“We’ve worked very hard with the city of Alabaster to see this day come. These kids have always attended Alabaster schools, and everyone identifies Saddle Lake Farms with Alabaster,” Clement said after the results were posted. “We are excited to have the kids stay in Alabaster schools, and for our property values to increase.”

However, not all of the neighborhood’s residents were pleased with the outcome of the election.

“”I know that it is a relief for the parents of our neighborhood to know where their children will be going to school this fall. It is a shame that these families and our neighbors were put in this position by the city of Alabaster,” neighborhood resident Vesta Ard wrote in an email after the election results were posted. “The city of Alabaster must be congratulated for an impeccable plan for collecting taxes from Saddle Lake Farms homeowners and giving us nothing in return; no upkeep of our streets, or street lights or many of the same benefits that other city taxpayers enjoy.

“Now that this election is over I pray that the good will of our community will return and that people will move forward. May we heal and live together in peace,” Ard wrote.

The July 29 vote came after Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister approved a petition – the second one submitted to the Probate Court by Saddle Lake homeowners – to call the election. In May, Fuhrmeister ruled the original Saddle Lake petition did not have enough signatures to allow him to set an election on the matter.