Madison City Council takes a stand on residential annexation

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT)– City council members said Monday marked a pivotal point in shaping Madison.  Council member Gerald Clark said a decision on annexation, and what it means for future annexations, could affect Madison’s future and its growth.

The question became whether to make Madison physically bigger by allowing Limestone County land to become part of the city, or to deny the chance for growth and rely on growth in other ways.

The issue stems from a Limestone County ad valorem and countywide sales tax disagreement between Madison City Schools and Limestone County. Who should get that money? Madison City school leaders argue the money from Madison-annexed Limestone County residents should come to them.

The city council made several residential annexation and zoning decisions Monday, where they had been tabled for a few weeks to debate the answer to these questions. They ended up letting some petitioners into Madison, and leaving others in Limestone County.

The council let a few of the smaller residential lots into Madison with relative ease, and completed the zoning for them. Homeowners took the podium before those votes to plead their case.

Jon Bendickson said to the council, “We certainly understand the school board’s position but I’d also urge that as the council considers this difficult question… a one size fits all should not be applied to all the annexation requests. There is a big difference between the large developments that are being brought in  and single family homes.”

The council, in the end, agreed with Bendickson that the impact on the school system for one home was different than a subdivision of more than a hundred.

The council never brought the annexation of a nearly 39 acre section of land on Hardiman Road to a vote. It died at the meeting without a second to the motion. The owners of that land are disappointed and frustrated, telling WHNT News 19 that they worked hard to get to this point and are now in limbo, waiting to see what is the best way to move forward. They may not even choose to reapply to make the land part of Madison.

Developer Dan Nash declined to comment until he was able to speak with legal counsel.

Meanwhile, council members say they did the best they could under the circumstances, but chose to help out the school system.

Madison City Council President Tim Holcombe said, “To continue to build more and more and more residential houses, council wanted to honor what the resolution that school board passed said, and that’s ‘no more annexations until we figure out the school tax issue.'”