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WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2007
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Orr signs Somerville expansion measure

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

SOMERVILLE — State Sen. Arthur Orr said Tuesday from Montgomery that he signed his approval to House Bill 410, which would expand Somer-ville's town limits by letting
it annex eight property owners.

"However, we've got some more hurdles to go," said Orr, R-Decatur. "Right now local legislation is not moving down here. We're trying to get budgets up for a first reading, and we want local legislation to move as well."

The Somerville Town Council opened the door for Orr's attempt to usher the bill through the Legislature on Monday by approving an ordinance that would wipe out the town's police jurisdiction for at least 10 years.

"It'll probably be more like 40 years," Mayor Ray Long mused after the council's 5-0 vote.

Eliminating the police jurisdiction is a compromise that state Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, who introduced the bill in the House, and Orr reached in an effort to satisfy other Somerville businesses that don't want to annex.

Those now in the police jurisdiction and those who would have been no longer have to be concerned with paying taxes to Somerville — if the Legislature approves the bill and Gov. Bob Riley signs it.

Long said the police jurisdiction will end effective on the first day of the third month following passage.

Built-in safeguards

And the mayor and the council believe they put forth an ordinance with built-in safeguards ensuring that no future council can tinker with the police jurisdiction without taking several stringent steps.

According to the ordinance, if, after the 10-year moratorium expires the council wants to reinstate its powers in the police jurisdiction, it must hold a public hearing at least 30 days before it makes any decision.

Also, the council must publish a notice at least once in The Decatur Daily and other newspapers at least 30 days before the public hearing. The notice must not be in the legal section, but has to be a separate display advertisement.

And the council must consult and confer with the Morgan County Commission before reaching a final decision regarding the exercise of its authority in the police jurisdiction.

District 4 County Commissioner Stacy George wants even stronger language, stating that the County Commission must approve any future action on the police jurisdiction.

He also wanted the ordinance inserted in House Bill 410 as
an amendment, but the legislation has already cleared the House.

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