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Mayor proposes large-scale annexation

By Evan Belanger · 340-2442

Decatur Mayor Don Kyle is proposing a large-scale property annexation that could increase the city’s area by more than 5 square miles.

Adding to the city’s northwest corner, the proposed annexation extends north to Alabama 20 and west to Woodall Road. It includes the Moulton Heights community, but most of the area is undeveloped, Kyle said.

“The time to put in good infrastructure is now, before it grows and some of the property gets blocked,” he said.

Other features in the proposed annexation include about eight miles of road frontage along Alabama 20, Beltline Road and Gordon Terry Parkway, and two major intersections.

Kyle says the property would be a valuable addition to the city, providing needed revenue as the area develops. He also said it would provide room for industrial, retail and residential growth.

In addition to growth opportunities, Kyle suggested that improving roads in the annexed areas could offer a better traffic route between south Decatur and the industrial plants along the Tennessee River.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to get people to move north and south of the Beltline,” he said.

Kyle said he has no timetable goal for the annexation.

Meeting with land owners

He said he began meeting with about 15 large property owners in the affected area in November. While he did not identify owners, Kyle said he plans to meet with others this fall.

If the annexation is successful, landowners would pay about 17 percent more in property taxes annually. The estimate does not include additional taxes from increased property values.

Receiving services

In return for their tax dollars, the residents would receive city street funding, sewer access through Decatur Utilities and access to city schools, Kyle said. Residents in the Moulton Heights community already receive city police and fire protection.

Before moving ahead with the annexation, Kyle said, he will ask the City Council to approve a measure guaranteeing property taxes collected from the annexed area will go toward improving the infrastructure there.

He said work to create comprehensive sewer and street plans should begin immediately after the annexation.

“You want any annexation to be amicable,” he said. “But it’s not going to be amicable if all you’re doing is annexing them in to pay more taxes. With a commitment from the council, their property value will go up instantly.”

Despite the plan, some residents in the area likely will be incorporated against their will. Residents in the Moulton Heights community have repeatedly fought annexation attempts. The community is surrounded by the city on three sides.

According to Kyle, the city will not attempt annexation through single-parcel, voluntary methods because that won’t provide enough revenue to pay for the infrastructure improvements.

Not holding election

He also said there are not enough people in the proposed annexation area to hold a special election, leaving the city to pursue annexation through a legislative act.

While the Alabama Legislature could approve the annexation without consent from any of the property owners, Kyle said the city will seek commitments from the property owners, hoping to reach at least 60 percent, before proceeding.

The city does not have a deadline for the annexation, Kyle said.

Council support?

Reaction to the mayor’s proposal from the City Council was positive last week.

Councilmen David Bolding, District 2, and Ray Metzger, District 5, said they were unaware of the proposed annexation, but would support it.

Councilmen Gary Hammon, District 3, and Ronny Russell, District 4, said they would support the annexation.

Attempts to contact District 1 Councilman Billy Jackson were unsuccessful. According to Kyle, if the annexation is successful, the area will most likely be added to Jackson’s district.

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