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Deannexation a bad policy, cities group director says

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

The executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities said a state bill introduced by Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, to de-annex 263 acres from the city of Madison is bad policy.

But the league has no immediate plans to take sides on the issue, said Perry Roquemore, the league's director.

"It puts developers in the position to bid cities against each other," Roquemore said. "I don't know that we'll come out and campaign against the issue. I'd rather it be settled locally."

Madison has worked for more than a year to build a multimillion-dollar retail center on the property south of Interstate 565.

Tracking bills

Roquemore, in a Thursday meeting at the Decatur Kiwanis Club, explained that the league is tracking 150 to 200 bills now before the Legislature that could affect municipal government, including zoning and development issues.

Roquemore, who was introduced by Kiwanis member A.J. Coleman, fielded questions about the de-annexation bill after his speech.

Decatur Mayor Don Kyle asked him why Barron would step outside his area of representation to introduce the de-annexation bill opposed by local representatives.

"I can't recall it happening before," said Roquemore.

'Courtesy rule'

Legislators generally don't vote for issues affecting other districts when representatives from those districts oppose the legislation. It's called a "courtesy rule."

"Due to the courtesy rule, we usually don't get involved in local legislation," Roquemore said.

Madison Mayor Sandy Kirkindall said this week he believed some members of the Legislature would try to "ramrod" the measure through.

"They're obviously going to try to disregard local courtesy," Kirkindall said. "Normally, one protest from one senator or two representatives is enough, and we've got more than that. They're going to try to run roughshod over the city of Madison."

Kirkindall said the only reason to de-annex the property near Zierdt Road is to make it available to be annexed by the city of Huntsville.

Huntsville's response

Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer released a statement Wednesday. She said Huntsville didn't initiate the legislation and is not involved in any way with the landowner's request to de-annex the property.

She said it is an issue that should be resolved between Madison and the Legislature.

Spencer's statement didn't address whether Huntsville would consider annexing the land if it were available. Spencer was unavailable for comment Thursday.

"I think it's a very safe assumption that if it were available for annexation, that Huntsville would annex it," Kirkindall said.

"We've asked Huntsville for a statement that it would not, and there has been no response."

The Legislature could vote on the bill as early as next week.

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