City votes to oppose bill to pull back planning, police jurisdictions

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 3/15/19

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — The City of Robertsdale has joined other municipalities across Baldwin County opposing Senate Bill 23, which would affectively eliminate police and planning jurisdictions …

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City votes to oppose bill to pull back planning, police jurisdictions

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ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — The City of Robertsdale has joined other municipalities across Baldwin County opposing Senate Bill 23, which would affectively eliminate police and planning jurisdictions throughout the state.

The bill was introduced by District 32 representative and former Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott.

The Robertsdale City Council voted unanimously at its meeting on Monday, March 4 to support a letter from Mayor Charles Murphy to the Baldwin County Legislative Delegation and to support a resolution drafted by the Baldwin County Mayor’s Association.

“We strongly request that you do not support this legislation and any future actions that limit the authority presently held by municipalities in the state of Alabama,” Murphy’s letter states.

According to the letter, the city opposes the passage of the bill on the following basis:

•It restricts municipalities in Alabama to plan for municipal expansions of their city limits and hinders the implementation of infrastructure guidelines of municipalities in development applications in their planning jurisdictions.

•It impacts and limits storm water planning and development management of storm water runoff, storage and flood prevention factors that could impact the municipality and areas in the unincorporated areas.

•Exposes inhabitants in the police jurisdiction to decreased or the elimination of public safety services, which could result in the loss of life and human injury.

•There is a reimbursement factor for municipalities that exercise their authority in the police and planning jurisdictions at half the municipal rate on sales tax and business licenses, the benefits normally received through these revenue streams are more valuable to the recipients outside the municipal than the financial return to the municipality, and the results of the passage of this bill could create undue financial hardship to municipalities across the state of Alabama.

•Normally those inhabitants surrounding a municipality outside the municipal limits feel they are a part of the community and use free municipal services, such as municipal parks, libraries, public safety services, municipal court systems and other services provided to those living in a municipality. Through the passage of SB23 it could reduce or eliminate these services to those inhabitants outside a municipality’s limits.

In other business Monday, members of the Robertsdale Revitalization Committee addressed council members at the March 4 meeting, expressing their support to Honeybee Park improvements.

“We’ve all seen the plans for the park and now that progress is being made on the improvements we just want to express how much we appreciate what the city is doing,” said Jonathan Kitchens on behalf of the committee. “And we just want you to know that our organization is willing to help in whatever way possible.”

Mayor Charles Murphy told those in attendance at the March 4 meeting that plans for park improvements are progressing ahead of schedule.

Included in Phase 1 of the improvements, which will cost nearly $1 million, include the construction of new sidewalks along the park area, the construction of brick columns running through the length of the park, a brick sign at the entrance to the park, a pavilion located on the east side of the park, landscaping, additional parking and restroom facilities.

Phase II will include the removal and relocation of the city’s Utilities Barn to property the city owns Chicago Street north of the city’s Police Station. The new facility will be constructed to withstand hurricane-force winds, Murphy said, so that it will be available for use as a storm shelter.

Phase III of the project will be the construction of an amphitheater where the current Utilities Barn is located. It will be used for local entertainment with additional parking and restroom facilities surrounding the structure.

Also on March 4, the council voted to:

•Surplus three vehicles for the city’s Police Department.

•Select voting delegates for the League of Municipalities Convention: Ruthie Campbell as main voting delegate; Joe Kitchens as first alternate; and Brent Kendrick as second alternate.

•Purchase a Sand Pro Ballfield Drag for the city’s Parks Department at a cost of $12,800.

•Appoint Gary Fox to the city’s Industrial Development Board.