City OKs application for annexation of territory into city limits

Published 9:57 am Tuesday, December 13, 2022

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The Atmore City Council adopted a resolution Monday to apply for the annexation of a 3-mile gap north of Escambia County Middle School to Rivercane just off of Interstate 65 into the corporate limits of the city.

City Attorney Larry Wettermark, who has had experience with annexation efforts for the city of Mobile, said that a city that doesn’t expand with its population and economic growth is going to be a dying city.

“I can’t tell you how important this is,” Wettermark said. “What we’ve done is drafted an annexation effort to unite the city as it exists around Highway 31 and 21 with the city as it exists on the intersection.”

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Wettermark said at present, the city owns three of the four quadrants with I-65 and Highway 21.

“The city hasn’t annexed between that,” he said. “You’ve got a new hospital and a possible prison system, which both will expand. That’s potential to have as an economic anchor for the city.”

Wettermark said the annexation needs to happen, and if a city decides to wait too long, it becomes more difficult to accomplish. He added that the city’s been working with Sen. Greg Albritton and the application will be presented to the legislature during the next session, which begins in March.

Wettermark said the drawn map excludes any residence with people inside.

“The idea is that you don’t want to force anybody to come in without them making that decision,” he said. “Most of this land is agricultural or forest. There are businesses also located along Highway 21. Those are the only properties that will come in. It’s not to exclude people. If someone, a resident, after an annexation plan comes in, they can do it by petition, and we’ll help draw up the petition; that way it’s a free choice to come in.”

Wettermark said given that the city owns Rivercane, the annexation basically unites the municipal boundaries south and north to create one city instead of one that’s partitioned off.

Wettermark said at present, the property is located within the county’s jurisdiction. Once the annexation is complete, the city will take over maintenance of roads and drainage. He added that the county will lose no tax revenue because of the annexation.

“They get all of the tax revnue after annexation,” he said.

On land use, Wettermark said any property annexed is grandfathered in and owners can continue to use said property as long as they own the property. He said the city can’t and will not change it by any kind of zoning.

Wettermark said the annexation will also make it equal for all businesses located inside of the new drawn limits to pay taxes sales and business taxes.

Wettermark said the law requires the application for annexation be advertised in both newspapers for four weeks. And the law requires the map be delivered to the Escambia County Probate Judge so citizens can study the map, and to be able to comment on it.

City Code Enforcement Officer Greg Vaughn said the city limits end on the east side of Brushy Creek.

“There is a lot of residential areas between Brushy Creek and East Sunset Drive,” Vaughn said. “We left the residential areas out. The city limit is staggered. It’s not a solid line.”

Vaughn added that the annexed drawing takes in as much as the Highway 21 corridor to be taken as the city tried to.

The annexation resolution is 2022-24, a resolution to apply for the annexation of said territory to the corporate limits of the city of Atmore.

In other business, the city:

  • adopted resolution 2022-25, a resolution concerning uniform officers working off duty. Police Chief Chuck Brooks said the resolution gives him the authority to allow off duty officers, when employed by local businesses for security, to wear their uniform and gun, along with using their police vehicle.

Brooks said sometimes off duty officers are hired, and the resolution allows them to do so. The rate for an off duty officer to work security for a local business is $35 per hour; and,

  • approved a Mediacom franchise agreement.