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Land option expires for Clanton

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The City of Clanton has let its option to purchase two parcels of property near Interstate 65, Exit 212 expire, losing $27,500 in non-refundable earnest money.

The Ellison property (9 acres) and Connell property (43 acres), which the purchase option was for, are located near the future site of the planned Alabama Farm Center.

Both parcels are in the Clanton Commercial Cooperative District and recommended for the city to purchase in the Exit 212 Master Plan. Even though the land option was put under the Clanton Commercial Cooperative District, actually purchasing the properties for $3.2 million would have had to be approved by the Clanton City Council.

An extension on the option to purchase the property, which had been approved by the property owners, expired last week.

Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims said after the council had given him the authority to negotiate an extension to the land purchase option, he found out he did not actually have the authority to do so.

“They didn’t have the authority to give me the authority because the (Clanton Commercial) Cooperative District is the one that had the authority,” Mims said.

He said this was because the land option had been accepted by the Clanton Commercial Cooperative District Board of Directors.

The extension was later accepted by the cooperative district as well.

“Me and the City Council, we didn’t do anything because that was the cooperative district,” Mims said. “They were the one that was supposed to get the environmentals (studies), and they didn’t.”

Meanwhile, the board of directors of the Clanton Commercial Cooperative District seemed to think Mims was handling moving forward with the sale, as evidenced by Council member Mary Mell Smith, who serves on the Clanton Commercial Cooperative board of directors, asking for an update from Mims at a Clanton City Council work session on Feb. 18.

During the works session, Mims mentioned a meeting scheduled for the next day with himself and the Clanton Commercial Cooperative Board of Directors.

However, this meeting had not been publicized as would have been required under the Open Meetings Act since a quorum of the board members would likely be present and conversation could impact future decisions.

The meeting was canceled.

Another meeting was never scheduled.

Mims said it would have been better for the original land option to have been for at least a year, giving the city enough time to get a “dirt bond on it, and we could have been moving right along with no debt on it.”

The Chilton County Commission has begun looking into purchasing the 9-acre Ellison property.