Clanton council votes to sell land for new hospital

Published 9:10 pm Monday, August 26, 2013

If Chilton County voters approve a sales tax increase to fund the construction of a new hospital, the location for the facility apparently has been decided.

Clanton’s City Council on Monday voted to sell eight acres off Highway 145, adjacent to the the Jefferson State Community College center, to the Chilton County Hospital Board, the group working to bring a new hospital to the county.

The sale is contingent upon the sales tax increase passing.

The city would sell the land for $400,000, or $50,000 per acre.

The vote wasn’t unanimous. Councilman Jeff Price voted in opposition, and Councilman Greg DeJarnett abstained.

Price said he heard concerns from residents in his district, where the hospital would be built, about the facility being close enough to their homes to decrease property value.

“I would have liked for that to be maybe the third option instead of the first option,” Price said about the site. “The issue isn’t whether to have a hospital, it’s where it will be located. I think everybody is for a hospital.”

Several people who live near the proposed site attended the meeting to voice their concerns.

Price mentioned the site of the closed Chilton Medical Center as an option, as well as other land in Clanton that is for sale.

Representatives of the Hospital Board were present at the meeting. They said other options were considered but that the board’s opinion was that building the facility adjacent to the college was best.

“We’re trying to give voters as much knowledge as possible as early as possible: Where it’s going to be located, who is going to run it, what it’s going to look like,” board member Allen Payton said.

DeJarnett said he abstained from the vote because he didn’t have enough information to make a judgment about whether the proposed location was the best one.

“My concern is, will that be the best location for future growth,” DeJarnett said. “I don’t want to make a rushed decision, and then down the road, we’re locked into a location that doesn’t meet our needs.”

Council members Bobby Cook, Sammy Wilson and Mary Mell Smith voted in favor of the agreement with the hospital board.

In other business, the council:

•Approved a change order for the project to improve the city’s water treatment facility. The project will cost $28,145 more than originally planned. The original contract for Phase I of the work was for about $1.85 million. The city was approved for a grant for just more than $1 million.

•Approved the re-zoning of property from manufacturing to business. The change was recommended by the city’s zoning board and would affect property from Enterprise Road to the railroad tracks from west to east, and from Second Avenue North to Jackson Avenue from north to south. A co-owner of some of the property that would be re-zoned attended the public hearing to voice her opposition. An attorney who is the executor of the estate including the property was also present and said she nor the other co-owner of the property objected. Other owners of property at the site were present and had no objections. The lady objecting said the re-zoning would have a negative effect on the property’s value. The council voted unanimously to suspend the rules, bring the matter up for immediate consideration, and to approve the board’s recommendation.

•Re-entered into an agreement with the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging for the organization’s use of a city facility off Enterprise Road. M4A bases a service to provide food for seniors at the facility.

•Approved the hires of Carolyn Thomas and Barbara McMillan to work at the M4A senior center.

•Agreed to enter into a contract with AME Engineering Company for putting in an access road at the industrial park.

•Denied the request of a travel softball league to use city fields for games from 6 p.m. on an upcoming Sunday to 6 a.m. on a Monday.

•Allowed Police Chief Brian Stilwell to declare four firearms and a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria as surplus.