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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2005
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Pleasant Acres rezoning threat

THE DECATUR DAILY:

I am writing to express my considerable concern regarding the rezoning of 29 acres adjacent to Marsha Avenue in Priceville from residential to commercial property.

The quality of life of the residents who live in Pleasant Acres will be negatively impacted if these 29 acres are allowed to be rezoned C-3 — meaning any commercial businesses can be built there, such as more truck stops, gas stations, used car lots, RV sales, Super Wal-Marts, motels, etc. The noise, glaring lights and massively increased traffic congestion at this already dangerous intersection of Marsha Avenue and Alabama 67 does not belong in a long-standing residential area. There is already land designated commercial located on the east side of Interstate 65 and north of Alabama 67 not being utilized.

Unfortunately, our city planners see only commerce, ignoring the residents who they should be representing. That the Realtor of these 29 acres, who is pushing for the property to be rezoned commercial, is a member of the Priceville City Council, is just like having the "fox in the henhouse."

We who live in the Pleasant Acres community would like to hope that a little bit of "Alabama the Beautiful" can continue to exist in the town of Priceville.

Janet Jenkins

Decatur

Keep Priceville area residential

THE DECATUR DAILY:

My husband and I had the good fortune to purchase a beautiful piece of property in Priceville, directly off Marsha Avenue.

The surrounding mountain landscape in the area is what attracted us to buy here. When I heard there was a meeting before the council to rezone some of this residential land commercial, I was appalled; surely the commission would not vote to commercialize such a gorgeous area with already established residences.

Was I wrong!

The meeting was July 18 with an overwhelming amount of support from the residential community to keep this area residential. Only one person attended to voice his opinion for the complete area to go commercial, and he wasn't even a Morgan County resident.

While one member listened to the residents, the rest of the commission either abstained or voted to send this measure to the council for final approval. How could that be? Were they listening to the residents who voted them in office? Then I learned the Realtor who is handling this transaction is on the council. Hmmmm.

We need help from Priceville and nearby Decatur residents. There is commercial land on all three sides of the interstate now that is not being utilized.

Why would they want to commercialize 29 acres in between subdivisions? I am asking the residents of Priceville to talk to their council members and tell them they don't want this to happen. I am asking the residents to show support for their neighbors. We will be there to help them when they need it. This is a community and that is what communities do for each other. Keep the government from spoiling our quality of life and our neighborhoods.

Melanie Starbuck

Priceville

Many deathtraps need attention

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Now that THE DAILY is on the median subject, why don't you get serious and campaign to fix all of the death traps that have evolved over years of poor traffic planning?

There are median closings and dividers needed on several incoming/outgoing highways. There have been deaths, but still no corrections are promoted. Do we have to wait until a certain number die before we fix obvious killers?

Here are some serious deathtraps that need attention:

First, the U.S. 31 North causeway needs a median divider.

Second, Alabama 67 East needs a median divider and some crossovers closed.

Third, Moulton Street and Alabama 24 West need median dividers within the city, and crossovers, especially at McEntire Lane and Plant Place, must be closed.

Fourth, Alabama 20 West needs median divider from Denbo to U.S. 31. Crossovers in front of Calpine and McEntire Lane and the Shell station should be closed. Make the turning lane to Trinity at North Seneca longer. Fix the cause of steel roll loss from trailers at the U.S. 31/Alabama 20 intersection (the real fix should be deleting the traffic light and adding non-stop access ramps). A big catastrophe is waiting to happen in front of Leon Sheffield Elementary School.

The area's attitude, in the past, has been: "Just ask for a little bit; if you ask for a lot, the state will give you nothing." As a result, we have gotten a little, but the problems are growing faster than the fixes. We need to change this attitude and be more forceful in asking for what we need.

What are we going to do with all of that extra traffic that will materialize as the result of lengthening of I-565 and development out there? What happens to the increased traffic on either end when the Beltline is three-laned? How does one get downtown when all of the incoming lanes are traffic jammed?

Gary Hughes

Trinity

Get more signs on Alabama 20

THE DECATUR DAILY:

I am encouraged that something is being done about the dangerous Alabama 20 situation. My wife and I travel to and from work daily through this area, and always try to slow down and be alert when there. We have noticed the somewhat improved warning signs, but they are not going to get the job done.

The new, larger yellow signs about a half mile east of the end of I-565 are around the curve and behind the bridge, so an unfamiliar driver is unlikely to associate this with the danger ahead. It would be better to have these where they are in view of the gas stations, and add flashing yellow lights to really grab attention. Perhaps they could be mounted on the overpass bridge.

The white warning signs are so small and so far to the right that they do not stand out from the clutter in the area to the drivers in the left lane, who tend to be going the fastest.

As far as red lights go: Why would we use the public money to ruin an existing near-limited access highway used for commuters to get to work every day for private landowners' benefit, then spend millions to rebuild the same thing? It has to be cheaper to add a few interchanges to Alabama 20 than to mess it up (make another slow-moving Beltline headache), then build a new, parallel interstate. Not to mention, it would take less time overall.

Tim Landers

Decatur

More action on property-rights

THE DECATUR DAILY: The Legislature's statutory amendment limiting the exercise of eminent domain is a good start. It doesn't go far enough. The Pandora's box that the U.S. Supreme Court opened earlier this summer is not shut in Alabama until private-property rights are protected in our state constitution.

As it stands, the newly passed statute will still be open to attack by municipal interest groups. Lobbyists can still influence enough legislators to create exceptions to the new law with new, future legislation. Like all good ideas that protect citizens' rights, exceptions will eventually outnumber and outweigh the good rule.

Simply put, Alabamians need to have the insurance of specific, far-reaching constitutional protection of their private property. Legislators will be less able to bargain away our rights for perks offered by municipal-interest lobbyists.

The Supreme Court ended America as we know it when it ruled that cities may exercise eminent domain of private property by taking it for the profit of private, corporate users who may create more tax revenue. The more than 200-year-old sovereignty of the individual in his home or his business, and the safety of the individual in his church, was washed out of the U.S. Constitution.

The Legislature has the chance to correct that historic, colossal mistake. The people of Alabama should demand it, and hold our elected leaders accountable if they do not finish the job with a constitutional amendment bill in the next regular session.

Tim Shelton

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