County preparing for jurisdiction changes

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SPANISH FORT – Officials in Spanish Fort and other cities are working with Baldwin County to complete plans to change planning jurisdictions following the passage of a state law limiting municipal authority outside corporate limits.

Under the act, which was sponsored by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Spanish Fort, a city can exercise a planning jurisdiction as far as three miles outside the corporate limits. On Jan. 1, 2023, that jurisdiction will be reduced to a maximum of 1.5 miles, according to David Conner, Spanish Fort city attorney.

The Spanish Fort City Council will vote in August on a plan to set its municipal extraterritorial jurisdiction under the new law. Mayor Mike McMillan said the city is working on a map but will have to wait for the County Commission to approve its plan.

“This is still an ongoing really moving agenda item for the County Commission also, so we will hold this on our agenda until the next meeting of August,” McMillan said.

The next Spanish Fort City Council meeting is scheduled Aug. 2. The Baldwin County Commission’s next meeting is Aug. 3.

Hope Hicks, a lawyer working on the changes for Baldwin County, said Spanish Fort’s map is almost complete and other cities are also making plans to change their jurisdiction boundaries.

“I have had contact with five or six of the municipalities,” Hicks told commissioners on July 19. “Orange Beach has already given me the dates that their City Council and Planning Commission will vote on the proposed agreement that we sent. They’ve actually asked to have less than the law would entitle them to. They want to actually take back their planning to just the corporate limits.”

She said she has also talked to lawyers representing Fairhope and Magnolia Springs to work out details in the jurisdiction maps.

“We prepared some maps,” she said. “It’s a little confusing. The maps are the most complicated part in this. Even the maps that only show the 1-½ mile, annexations can vary that and how the annexations were done, when they were done. I don’t know that anybody has a complete map that would show all of that.”

In earlier meetings, officials said the deadline to complete the map was July 26. Hicks said, however, that as long as work has started to change the jurisdictions, efforts can continue beyond the deadline.

The proposed plan for Spanish Fort discussed in earlier work sessions calls for the city to extend its planning jurisdiction out up to 1.5 miles in areas that may be annexed in the future, but not in some other location outside the municipal limits. City officials said they did not want to extend the Spanish Fort jurisdiction into other cities or unincorporated communities, such as Stapleton to the northeast of Spanish Fort.

Under the proposal discussed at the work session, the Spanish Fort planning jurisdiction would not extend east of Alabama 59. The city would also limit its planning jurisdiction north of Bromley Road to areas already in the corporate limits.

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