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FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2007
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Some concerned about Somerville's annexation plans

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

SOMERVILLE — State Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, said a bill he introduced that would bring eight parcels of property into Somerville passed the House on Tuesday.

But annexation has raised concerns from people who would end up in the town's revised police jurisdiction.

Most of the property includes businesses near the four-way stop at Alabama 67 and Alabama 36.

State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said House Bill 410 came to the Senate on Thursday.

"I'm holding off any action until I have a chance to determine what the will of the people is that are going to be affected in the expanded police jurisdiction," Orr said. "Based on calls I'm getting, the word on the street is that the town of Somerville is annexing people without their permission or input."

Orr said that while it is his understanding that each of the eight property owners wants in, he has received more than 60 telephone calls and several e-mails from people voicing objection.

"But a lot of those people have nothing to worry about because they're already in the existing PJ and nothing will change," he said.

Mayor Ray Long said no one should be concerned about any negative influence from the legislation, which would extend the jurisdiction 1.5 miles past the four-way stop.

"We don't have a property tax or zoning," he said. "The only change people will see is that they will receive services such as police protection and mosquito spraying."

Long said in addition to Johnston's Collision Center, owned by Darryl Johnston, that parcel also includes Dollar General Store. Another parcel is 10 acres Johnston's father, Charles Johnston, owns beside the auto shop.

The mayor said other parcels include Mamas Country Diner, Piggly Wiggly, Jack's Hamburgers and a vacant lot nearby, the Joe Wheeler substation, a residence on 2.7 acres owned by Karen White off Alabama 67, about a quarter-mile west of the four-way stop, and a rental house next to White's property on about 11 acres owned by Joseph Routh of Flint.

Long said all the property owners told him they want to be annexed, particularly for sewer service.

Priceville officials previously agreed to work with Somerville on allowing the town to connect to their sewer system. Long and Larry Whitley of Ladd Environmental Consultants Inc. of Fort Payne met Thursday night with the Priceville Sewer Board to discuss rates. The board authorized Town Engineer Sonny Wright to conduct a cost analysis before committing to rates. All agreed to meet again in one month.

Grantland said that when the mayor approached him about the bill, he made it clear that the only way he would introduce it is for Long to get the consent of all property owners.

Still, Orr said he will move cautiously.

"My concern is that those in the PJ can't vote on the town council," he said. "The only people who can really represent them are members of the legislative delegation. So what's the pleasure of those people? I need to hear it."

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