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Liquor language approved

Divided council decides not to revise ACE plan

The Hartselle City Council has approved the Alabama Communities of Excellence strategic plan including a strategy to promote alcohol sales to aid with economic growth.

The vote passed 3-2 with councilmen Kenny Thompson, Tom Chappell and Mark Mizell voting in favor of the plan. Councilmen Don Hall and Bill Smelser affirmed their opposition to the plan with the alcohol language by voting no.

The resolution did pass with a stipulation, introduced by Smelser and seconded by Hall, that allows anyone on the ACE Strategic Committee to remove his or her name from the acknowledgement list if they disagreed with any part of the plan. The council unanimously approved that amendment.

“I’m personally opposed to the plan,” Smelser said. “I think any committee who doesn’t agree with the alcohol language or any other part of the plan can have their name removed from the list.”

City Planner Jeremy Griffith said in a previous meeting that the list of names was attached to the plan to acknowledge the residents who participated in this discussion. However, some participants expressed concern that they could be viewed as supporting alcohol sales.

Thus, the council is allowing those participants 30 days to request that their names be removed from the list.

Of the more than 30 residents who attended the council meeting Tuesday night, the majority who addressed the council asked the city not to support the alcohol language.

“It’s not good for anyone and it’s not good for our youth,” said resident Earl Warren. “I won’t vote for legalizing alcohol in Alabama.”

Mark Coleman, who owns a business in Athens, said he chose to move back to Hartselle after building his dream home in Decatur’s Burningtree Valley because of Hartselle being dry.

“I wanted to raise my children in a dry town,” Coleman said. “I think we need to keep Hartselle the largest dry municipality in the state.”

Bob Francis said Hartselle could be left behind if it doesn’t go wet in the near future.

“Priceville is probably going to go wet in 2012,” Francis said. “If we don’t go wet, we could miss out on a lot of retail business for Hartselle.”

Regardless of what’s in the strategic plan, Thompson said the city couldn’t actively call for a referendum on the issue.

“We can’t make the city go wet,” Thompson said. “We can’t put it on the ballot ourselves. The only way you can put it on the ballot is if a petition is turned in to the city.”

City Clerk/Controller Rita Lee explained to the large audience Monday night that a petition that must have signatures of registered voters totaling 30 percent of the number that voted in the last municipal election, which would be 717 voters.

“Once the petition has been turned in and the names have been verified, the city council must pass a resolution to put it on the ballot,” Lee said. “The council must put it on the ballot according to state law.”

Chappell said the reason why he voted in favor of the strategic plan was to support those who helped develop the plan over the last two years.

“That’s the reason why we have commissions and committees,” Chappell said. “I don’t want to undermine their decisions in developing this plan.”

In other business, the council:

• introduced ordinances that would annex and zone the rest of Indian Hills Subdivision. The council cannot vote on the act until the Nov. 22 meeting.

• approved a parade permit for the annual Hartselle Christmas Parade, which is being sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. The parade will be held Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

• approved spending $20,150 on a full size extended cab truck for the fire department from Eddie Preuitt Ford. The price was $150 over the budgeted total. Fire Chief Steve Shelton said his department would cover the extra money in its budget.

• approved $56,450 to purchase two new police cars. Police Chief Ron Puckett said the total was $1,450 over the state bid price.

• revised the city’s volunteer firefighter sheet.

• approved a contract with Revenue Discovery System to find businesses that are without a license. Lee said RDS would take one-half of the license revenues as payment for their services.

• approved a $68,030.53 invoice from Wiregrass Construction Co., Inc. for paving city streets out of the 7 percent gasoline fund.

• granted parade permits for the Hartselle Chamber of Commerce’s event in 2012. They are the Cotton Pickin’ BBQ Cook-Off May 17-19, Depot Days Sept. 8-15 and Christmas Open House Nov. 4.


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