HUNTSVILLE — Despite an objection from one of the residents impacted by an annexation of residential properties along U.S. Hwy. 27 in north Huntsville, the town's mayor and board of aldermen finalized the annexation measure during a meeting Thursday afternoon.
By a 3-0 vote with vice mayor Mark Love and alderman Jody Newport absent, the board approved the second and final reading of an ordinance annexing the property, located along the east side of U.S. Hwy. 27 just south of R&J Produce.
During a public hearing that preceded Thursday's meeting, Jeff Burress — one of the residents impacted by the annexation — approached the board to object to the annexation, armed with the signatures of two elderly residents who he said were unable to attend the meeting.
"We're wholeheartedly against any annexation into the Town of Huntsville," Burress told board members.
At Thursday's public hearing, as was the case at a January meeting when the subject was first broached, city recorder Wendy Buttram explained that the properties were surrounded by tracts on either side that have long since been a part of the town.
Mayor George Potter said that an annexation "years ago" skipped the residential properties in question to take in businesses further north — R&J Produce and Helenwood Foods.
"Back when that was first done, you were able to skip," Buttram said. "Now you have to have a continuous parcel of land. (The board) is just trying to square up boundaries."
Buttram said that residents impacted by the annexation are currently eligible for all services the town offers, except garbage service, despite not paying city taxes.
Alderman Steve Asberry said that senior citizens who qualify for tax relief actually pay less in taxes than they pay for private garbage pickup.
During a cordial exchange, Buttram said that the mayor had told him in the past that "he would skip us if we didn't want in town," to which Potter responded that he could not recall saying that.
"We're not going to hurt you," Potter said. "The town will benefit you. You should be for the town."
Potter added that statistics show that "84.3 percent of the people in the county works in Huntsville." Laughing, Burress responded, "I wouldn't doubt it as much as you're expanding."
The mayor added that most residents, after being annexed into the town and benefiting from free garbage pickup and a 38 percent insurance discount due to the Class 6 ISO rating of the town's fire department, wish they had been annexed sooner.
"I see your point but we are steadfast against it," Burress said.
A second resident — Kim Bryant — also spoke at the public hearing, saying she represents the five homes on Woodward Drive in Highlander Estates that are not yet part of the town.
After explaining that the current annexation does not include the Woodward Drive properties — which are situated on the opposite side of U.S. Hwy. 27 — Potter said that the town "may try (annexing the property) later," to which Bryant responded, "I don't want it later. I don't want it ever."
In addition to the second reading of the ordinance annexing the properties, the board voted to adopt a plan of services for the properties.