Plans continue on I-65 project

Published 6:19 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
Looking out for the architectural integrity of the new Rivercane project at Interstate 65 is one of the main concerns of the Atmore Industrial Development Board.
Last Thursday, during its monthly meeting, the board tabled a request from Dennis Bowman with Alabama Power Company's corporate real estate department to secure easements at Rivercane, which would give the power provider the right to install and operate once businesses begin construction on the 643-acre site.
"The goal here is to secure easement before ownership of the property is made," Bowman said.
By securing easements prior to construction, Alabama Power Company crews would not run into the problem of a property owner refusing work on their property should there be a need for repairs or upgrades.
"Our engineer will work with your folks to prevent multiple signatures once the parcels are sold," Bowman added.
Even though members of the industrial development board understand obtaining easements prior to construction could eliminate future headaches as the project grows, they agree that the "open-endedness" of the contract Bowman presented leaves too many constraints on their part.
"The open-endedness of this is kind of scary," Atmore Industrial Development Board chairman Richard Maxwell said.
Board member Shep Marsh agreed with Maxwell and suggested to the board that they review the contract and also allow the Rivercane Architectural Review Committee look it over to make changes as they deem fit.
"Maybe we can add some language that makes it not so open-ended," Marsh said.
Bowman again stated that Alabama Power would work hand-in-hand with the board to ensure that design of Rivercane would not be jeopardized.
"I don't think anybody question the intent of Alabama Power," Marsh said. "But (the contract) removes our ability to even discuss things."
In Bowman's request, which covers the entire Rivercane project, it states that landscape and parking can be installed in the "easement" areas, but no buildings. With several development options still up the air, the board decided to review the contract and get back with Bowman later this week.
"I don't think any of us know where we're going to be two years from now," Atmore mayor Howard Shell said. "I think that's where the question of the unknown come in."
Since the board made the decision to review the contract's "language," Bowman also suggested that the board consider approving easement for Rivercane one phase at a time.
"I think we can make this happen quickly," Maxwell said. "I don't think there will be any significant delays."
Project manager Jim Corman also provided a brief report to the board. In his report, Corman:
Once the new paperwork is received, S.A. Graham, the contractor for Phase 1, will resume work on the roads and curbs.
"We're at the point to where I could get a phone call and George (Davidson) could tell me we have (a big box)," Corman said.

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