Spanish Fort approves planning jurisdiction agreement

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SPANISH FORT – After more than two months of negotiations with the Baldwin County Commission and neighboring communities, Spanish Fort set the limits for city planning authority outside its municipal boundaries. The City Council voted Monday, Oct. 4, to approve the boundaries for extraterritorial jurisdiction. David Conner, city attorney, said the ordinance will establish where Spanish Fort can regulate subdivisions outside its city limits. “It is planned that the city will exercise planning jurisdiction up to a mile and a half in most areas around the city subject to limitations imposed by the statute based on other corporate limits of other neighboring municipalities and their planning jurisdiction,” Conner said. Mayor Mike McMillan said city officials have been working on the plan for several months and the ordinance has been on the council agenda for more than two months. “This has been on our agenda for quite a while and I think we finally worked through all the details and all the maps and everything that goes with it,” McMillan said. “Is it the perfect document that we wanted? No it’s not because we had some agreements between a neighboring city and ourself that the county really doesn’t recognize, but we’ll get through that down the road here.” Conner said one final item to be worked out involved a map setting the jurisdiction boundaries between Spanish Fort and Loxley along U.S. 31. The maps had to be redrawn because the lines were too thick, and officials could not confirm in which jurisdiction some streets were. “There were a couple of lines around some properties that appeared to be in Loxley’s corporate limits, and it really had to do with the thickness of the lines on the corporate limits, so they adjusted the overlays,” Conner said. Senate Bill 107, passed in the Alabama Legislature’s 2021 session, set police jurisdictions at the limits in place at the beginning of 2021 and also establishes regulations for how far a city can exercise its planning jurisdiction to enforce subdivision regulations, Conner said in an earlier meeting on the ordinance. Under the law, a city can now 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, he said. Before the ordinance was passed, Spanish Fort had exercised planning jurisdiction at the Eastern Shore Center and in one area on U.S. 31, but not in other locations beyond the corporate limits. Issues that had to be resolved in developing the ordinance and the new jurisdiction map included the jurisdictions of neighboring municipalities. City officials also discussed how extending Spanish Fort jurisdiction out 1.5 miles would affect the unincorporated community of Stapleton east of the city. At previous planning sessions, council members said that 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.