Fairview council meeting raises question of property de-annexation, how it could happen

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Dr. Josiah Daily addresses the Fairview Town Council Tuesday evening. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. – On Tuesday evening Dr. Josiah Daily, assistant fire chief of the Fairview Volunteer Fire Department, who owns both the Fairview Quick Stop and The Hutch Restaurant, addressed the Fairview Town Council, requesting to have his properties de-annexed from the Town of Fairview.

“Y’all have done nothing to help businesses grow in this community,” he said.

Daily also cited personal attacks and a malpractice accusation he said Mayor Keith Henry made against him at August’s month’s council meeting. 

(Background: www.facebook.com/CullmanTribune/videos/400472020823977/)

Can de-annexation happen?

The short answer is “yes,” but the longer answer begins with “sometimes.”

Just within the last few years, the city of Memphis, Tennessee successfully de-annexed certain outlying neighborhoods, and Johnson City, Tennessee allowed a certain community to leave. Kinston, North Carolina saw an upscale neighborhood representing $150,000 in annual tax revenues de-annex despite its best efforts to keep it in the city. Just this year in Alabama, a bill to de-annex several small tracts from the Town of Owens Crossroads in Madison County passed the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey; the de-annexation officially took place Sept. 1. 

So de-annexation can happen, but it is no easy feat. Memphis basically went through the entire procedure twice for the one de-annexation it did, and the efforts in Kinston and Owens Crossroads succeeded through the outside intervention of the respective state governments. The process can happen by two different means, neither of which is simple or quick, and neither of which usually involves a single citizen and a single official at odds with one another.

How can de-annexation take place?

De-annexation can be accomplished by the combined actions of a municipal council, probate judge and residents in the affected area; it can also happen via legislation.

From the April 2013 Alabama Municipal Journal:

Alabama law provides two (2) ways for a municipality to reduce its corporate limits or otherwise “de-annex” property. One method is by a legislative act by the Alabama Legislature. The other process, which involves the municipal council, is found in Section 11-42-200 through 213 of the Code of Alabama 1975.

If the council determines that the public health or public good requires the reduction of its corporate limits, Section 11-42-200, Code of Alabama 1975, requires the council to pass a resolution defining the proposed corporate limits. Once the resolution is adopted, the mayor or council president must file with the probate judge a certified copy of the resolution, a plat or map defining the proposed corporate limits, and the names of all registered voters residing in the territory proposed to be excluded from the area of the proposed corporate limits. Section 11-42-201, Code of Alabama 1975.

If no one in the affected area objects to the reduction, the probate judge will order the corporate limits reduced. Section 11-42-202, Code of Alabama 1975. If residents in the affected area show a reasonable cause as to why the reduction should not take place, the probate judge will order an election. 

Cities or citizens seeking de-annexation give several reasons, including:

  • on the part of cities, to reduce and consolidate the area over which municipal services and resources must be spread 
  • desire to annex into another adjoining municipality
  • desire to relocate from a municipal school district into a county system
  • desire to withdraw from responsibilities to a municipality due to lack of services–often utilities–from the municipality (the alleged reason in Fairview)
  • desire simply to be free of municipal restrictions

At Tuesday’s Fairview Town Council meeting, Henry told Daily that the council will consult with an attorney on his de-annexation request.

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W.C. Mann