Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith said the city approached Matt Miles, owner of Buster Miles Ford, about annexing three parcels of his property on Tompkins Street behind his Ford Store. Officials want to bring in the property because of development going on in the area and because the city already provides services to the properties, Smith said. Miles’ properties adjoined two other properties, so the city approached those property owners at the same time, he said.
One of the property owners thought she was already in the city limits.
Wanda Nichols has lived with her husband on Tompkins Street for 25 years. The two moved into their current home on the street about five years ago thinking it was already within the city limits, she said. So, she was surprised when city staff talked to them about annexing their property. But she readily agreed.
“We’re right here; everything’s right here,” Nichols said. “We figured it just needed to be.”
All three property owners agreed to the annexation and signed petitions to become part of the city, Smith said.
For Miles, it was a decision based on an emotional tie to the city as much as business.
“My other property is in the city limits,” Miles said. “It’s my city, my community. I wanted to support it.”
But there are some particular advantages. For instance, people who live outside the city limits but get their water from the city Water Works pay a higher rate, Smith said.
Miles, who plans to develop the three parcels behind his Ford business for retail purposes, said he thought it would be an advantage to be in the city limits when trying to lure potential businesses to the lots.
Smith said that with the petition, only the council’s approval is needed to make the change.
This is the easiest way to annex a property, Smith added. If a property owner doesn’t agree to an annexation, there are a couple of ways the city could still try to do it, but both require state legislation, he said. However, Smith added, the city wouldn’t do that.
Other annexations are possible. At the council’s recent meeting, Mayor Rudy Rooks told members to see if any residents in areas adjoining their districts might be interested in annexation.
“I feel like this may be the first of many,” Rooks said.
But the focus of this annexation, near Interstate 20 where it intersects with Alabama 9, was development, officials said.
“That’s going to be a hot spot for growth,” Rooks said. “We want to make sure that we’re sitting in good shape when that happens.”
Nichols agreed. She has seen the commercial development spring up around her home including the Buster Miles Ford and now his Chevrolet dealership under construction. Her home is up for sale and she hopes it will be sold and developed into business, just as the area around her is now.
“It needs to be business,” Nichols said. “How else is Heflin going to grow?”
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.