Indian Ford Fire District votes in favor of annexation by Helena

Published 7:40 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Citizens of the Indian Ford Fire District arrived at the polls and voted in favor of their district’s annexation into the city of Helena on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The official vote, of the 308 ballots cast, stands as:

  • 230 For annexation
  • 78 Against Annexation

City officials in Helena were happy with the outcome, and expressed their readiness in welcoming their new neighbors into Helena.

“We are excited, as the city of Helena, to be able to embrace all of these new residents that have voted today to show their voice—that they want to be a part of the city of Helena,” said Brian Puckett, mayor of Helena. “The advantages that we offer are going to be very good for those residents, so we’re excited to put it into play.”

This annexation began as a formal request from the fire district’s board of directors, who sought an annexation by Helena in order to better provide citizens of the district with utilities and services. This request was further backed by a petition containing at least 200 signatures from the district’s residents, which made up at least 60 percent of the owners of property in the district, as is required by law.

Initially meant to have taken place on Aug. 8, the election was delayed following legal complaints from the city of Hoover, who cited what they believed to be legal errors in how Helena had approached their attempts at annexation. In a public statement from the Hoover City Council, Council President John Lyda said that the annexation move by Helena will strip those in the district, who do not wish to join Helena, of their individual rights.

“The city of Hoover has best in class schools, public safety and services that are second to none,” Lyda said. “We would welcome any residents or property owners to apply for annexation into Hoover, including those in the neighborhoods of Russet Meadows.”

Throughout the entire process, Hoover had sought to allow their own annexations of specific and individual properties which fell within the fire district’s borders. Their attempts to annex such properties, with which they felt to be contiguous with, were halted by a court ruling from Probate Judge James Naftel II of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County that suspended Hoover’s attempts until the citizens had the opportunity to vote for or against Helena’s annexation of the district.

“We began this process by providing the people of Indian Ford the most democratic process available, if they wanted to annex in, and that was through a free and fair election,” Helena Councilmember Chris VanCleave said. “There has been some legal maneuvering by a neighboring city, with almost eight times the budget of Helena, that almost prevented the voice of the people from being heard. But, we stood true to our principles, for the right of the people to vote.”

With the vote return showing a majority in favor of annexation by Helena, attempts by Hoover appear to have been shut down entirely.

“This election will cover as much of Indian Ford as we were able to annex under Alabama statutory law,” VanCleave said. “This comes with many benefits to those residents including lower taxes and lower insurance rates. After the election, there will be other options for areas that weren’t subject to the election to annex in if they wish to do so.”

The city of Helena had already begun the rollout of services to the Indian Ford Fire District prior to the vote, such measures will now be met with others as Indian Ford moves to become one with Helena.

“I believe that Helena has demonstrated its commitment to the entirety of the Indian Ford Fire District by entering into an automatic aid agreement for fire protection during this interim period,” VanCleave said. “Helena remains committed to the people of Indian Ford and has fought for their right to vote.”

Further details surrounding the process of finalizing the annexation will be forthcoming as details are made available.