CHELSEA, Ala. (WIAT) — Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer and the city council addressed concerned citizens about the potential of some unincorporated neighborhoods in Shelby County being annexed and becoming a part of Chelsea.
Residents came in droves Tuesday night and packed the council chamber as they asked questions on the annexation process while voicing their opposition to the idea.
The purpose of annexing certain neighborhoods is to help create a new school system in the city of Chelsea, which the city council approved a feasibility study be conducted to see if it’s possible. But residents at the meeting weren’t thrilled exactly how they found out about the idea.
“It wasn’t till a couple of days ago until myself and the people in this room realized this was being discussed,” resident Jack Little said.
There was still some confusion to how it all works.
“The information, there is not enough out there to make a thought. That’s why I came down here,” resident Darren Weaver said.
Mayor Picklesimer says the majority of the information online about the annexation process is false. He says if it does happen, the city will not take over private roads or gates into certain communities. He says if neighborhoods like Highland Lakes don’t want to be a part of Chelsea, they don’t have to be.
“No municipality has the right or the means to annex a community without the consent of its residents,” Picklesimer said.
Mayor Picklesimer says if the study shows it is possible to have a school system within the city, the same group conducting the study will determine how much property tax could potentially go up.
“We know that. We don’t know how much that property tax is. That’s part of the feasibility study will tell us,” Mayor Picklesimer said.
City Councilwoman Tiffany Bettner, along with other council members, voiced their support for creating a new school system during the meeting.
“I feel like it’s time for us to take the bull by the horns and make a change for the better for our students,” Bettner said.
While those opposed still want to help create a better school system, they don’t believe annexation is the right way.
“We absolutely believe in that, but there are other options,” Robert Hill said.
But until the findings are complete, city leaders and several in support of the idea ask everyone to be patient.
“Let’s think in terms of how we keep these kids together and the best opportunity possible. Thank you,” Resident Jay Harriston said.
Mayor Picklesimer and other city leaders say the findings from the approved study will be available to the public in October. You can read the full statement on the study by the schools inside Chelsea city limits below.