City of Huntsville hears public input on redistricting plan

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville city leaders welcomed public comments on the city’s plan for redistricting Tuesday night.

Every 10 years, the city has to redraw its city council and school board districts to reflect changes in the city’s population. Due to the city’s booming population over the past decade, the districts are currently uneven in population. District 5, which encompasses the city’s expanding western limits, currently has more than 52,000 residents. However, District 1, in the city’s northern section, has about 38,000 residents.

The map proposed by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle’s office would re-draw the districts so that each one has approximately 43,000 residents.

While the city’s planning department has spent months putting together the proposal, they admit they don’t always get it right.

“This plan is certainly not final,” City Planner James Vandiver said. “It is a foundation we can build on as the remaining public hearings are held and as other plans are introduced by the public.”

Huntsville resident Donna Hendricks expressed concern that the proposed map would split her neighborhood in the Jones Valley Road area into separate districts.

“It’s a situation of where we’re having a meeting as a group and there’s a situation and it’s like ‘wait do we call this person or do we call that person?’,” Hendricks said.

Other residents questioned why the city council has remained a five-member council while the city’s population has grown.

“There is something about maintaining five city council and school board districts for a city our size that does not equate proper representation and lacks vision,” Huntsville resident Phyllene Washington said.

City Attorney Trey Riley said that while the city is not “locked-in” to a five-member council system, expanding the council would be a complicated process due to previous court rulings and conflicting laws. Mayor Battle estimated that the process could take nearly three years.

The next public hearing on redistricting will be held Monday, October 25th, at 5:30 p.m. in the Huntsville City Council chambers.

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