What does Saddle Lake annexation mean for residents, city?

A Shelby County Sheriff's Office deputy posts the results of a July 29 election in Saddle Lake Farms. The neighborhood will now be served by the Alabaster Police Department. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

A Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputy posts the results of a July 29 election in Saddle Lake Farms. The neighborhood will now be served by the Alabaster Police Department. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Several Saddle Lake Farms residents who voted in favor of annexing into the city during a July 29 election cited a desire to stay in the Alabaster City School System in future years. But what else will come with the neighborhood’s decision to become part of a city for the first time?

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 ballots. During an Aug. 4 interview, Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said he expected Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister to issue an order on Aug. 6 finalizing the neighborhood’s annexation.

Because of the annexation, children in the neighborhood will be able to continue attending Alabaster City Schools. 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.

With the annexation also comes some changes in services for the neighborhood’s residents. The neighborhood will be covered by the Alabaster police and fire departments, rather than the Saginaw Volunteer Fire Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Brumlow said the city’s police and fire departments already have response plans in place to cover the neighborhood, which is on the eastern side of town.

“They went through that months ago,” Brumlow said. “They’ve already worked up an action plan. The last piece is making sure 911 is all synched up with calls from that neighborhood.”

Alabaster will not assume maintenance of the neighborhood’s roadways, however, as Saddle Lake Farms is legally a condominium complex. Because of the neighborhood’s legal status, Saddle Lake’s roads are part-owned by every resident in the subdivision, and are maintained by homeowners’ dues.

“The roads are not deeded for public use, which means the city can not, by law, maintain them,” Brumlow said. “We told them that from day one. It’s the same as any other private neighborhood or gated community.”

Because Saddle Lake has been connected to the Alabaster water system for several years, City Administrator George Henry said the neighborhood’s water provider will not change. No city sewer line currently connects to the neighborhood, so residents will not be required to connect to the city’s sewer system, Henry said.