Jemison growing with annexations

Published 4:15 pm Thursday, July 28, 2011

Alabama Highway 155 leads from the Oak Grove community into Jemison. The city annexed Oak Grove in 2009.

Last year’s census data showed Jemison, with a 15-percent population increase, was Chilton County’s fastest growing municipality in the past 10 years.

The city is also growing in terms of land area.

The Jemison City Council has approved several significant annexations in the past five years, bringing people and businesses into the city and taking city services to the new residents.

The Oak Grove community, comprising about 100 acres and 15 homes, was annexed into the city in 2009.

Oak Grove resident Margaret Cobb led the effort for annexation, which concluded after almost all residents of the community signed a petition.

“We were having such a hard time with traffic, people just driving so fast, and in the summertime when it’s hot the dust was just awful,” Cobb said. “I think it’s been a good thing. Everything they told us they would do, they have done.”

Oak Grove residents have reaped the benefits of being part of Jemison, as the city has paved roads, posted speed limit and stop signs, installed fire hydrants and street lights, and extended garbage pick-up routes.

When Oak Grove was annexed, Jemison was handling its own garbage pick-up, but the city contracted the service to Waste Pro at the beginning of the year.

Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed said the city’s growth and the increasing cost of maintenance to garbage trucks—Reed said the city had a bill one month of $9,000 for maintenance on just one of its two trucks—made the move necessary.

In 2006, the city annexed Sunset Cove subdivision and Burning Bush Baptist Church, located just off Interstate 65 Exit 219, on County Road 42.

About 100 acres of property that formerly housed Gene Martin’s used car lot was annexed into Jemison in 2008. The land is zoned as light industrial, though no active business is located there.

Another significant annexation was several plots of land, encompassing about 140 acres, off County Road 606, or Smith Road. Included in this annexation was the 191 Express service station and the land that now supports Hidden Meadow Vineyard, which opened in June.

Last year’s annexation of land off Highway 31 north of Jemison now includes an Exxon service station, bringing needed sales tax dollars into the city.

Still, annexation is costly because of the services the city provides.

“People seek the safety of the city for services they can’t ordinarily get,” Reed said. “It’s obvious that the more residents you have, the more you qualify for certain grants, but [annexation] still costs us a lot of money.”