Annexation bill regarding Shelby County property sparks debate

Dozens of families in a Shelby County neighborhood want to become part of Alabaster.

A bill in the state legislature would annex property next to Saddle Lake Farms. If approved, that would allow residents to vote on joining Alabaster.

Lawmakers will decide the fate of Saddle Lake Farms in Shelby County.

If{}an empty field next to the subdivision gets annexed into Alabaster, residents will automatically get a vote on whether to be part of the city. But, Phillip Lusco says the bill is facing opposition by his neighbor, Freddy Ard, Chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party.

Lusco says, "I think he's put pressure on some of the representatives and as a result, I think they'll vote no for the bill."

Lusco says passing the bill is vital for this neighborhood. It would affect more than 200 families, many who want their children to remain in Alabaster schools.

Lusco says, "We're fully vested in the city. All of our children go to a city school. We would have to uproot them to send them to Columbiana. We would lose an estimated 20% of our home value."

Now that the city has its own school district, Stephanie Caldarello, says a transition plan has been made that would move her children to a county school.

"To have to drop out of something, we've been a part of, is disappointing."

Despite many in favor of annexation, Freddy Ard gave us this statement.

"Complex circumstances and maneuvers are the basis of concerns over the threat of Saddle Lake Farms Annexation. Our objections are strictly of a financial nature, considering the foreseeable adverse impact on our household budgets. Certain tax hikes, both immediate and recurring to sustain the school system, sewer fees and expensive hookup mandates, along with detrimental prospective development of adjacent properties, are among the costly elements that should not be foolishly ignored by saddle lake farms homeowners."

Neighbors who are in no way connected to Alabaster City Schools have seen their interests disregarded in this entire process. Prior actions by parties promoting annexation have eliminated the leverage of SLF residents, with no offsets except for the benefit of school districting. Consequently, the present dilemma was conceived, nurtured and unjustifiably dumped onto the county's legislative delegation to resolve by means of "cherry-pick annexation" in the form of SB457."

Lusco hopes lawmakers will give residents a chance to vote on their future.

"I'd ask them to do the right thing, my kids, my family, my neighbors, their children. we're all counting on them to do the right thing and pass this bill."

Ard says members of the Shelby county delegation in the house are expected to block the bill.

A similar bill annexing the south-40 subdivision passed last year.