Saying their hands are tied because of the county’s lack of zoning or home rule, the Limestone County Commission Monday gave preliminary approval to a strip mall adjacent to an upscale East Limestone subdivision.

Two weeks ago, residents of Foxridge Subdivision came to the commission to protest the development of the Capshaw Merchant Village because they say the subdivision’s developer told them the area would remain a wetland “buffer zone.”

County Commission Chairman David Seibert agreed to table approval of the strip mall to get a county attorney’s opinion on whether ingress and egress could be made on Doe Run.

“Our attorney says we cannot deny access to Doe Run,” Seibert said Monday.

After the commission granted preliminary approval to the mall, Foxridge resident John Bernhard continued to protest, saying he had tried unsuccessfully to get a joint meeting between residents, developer Timmy Baugher, and District 2 Commissioner Gerald Barksdale to discuss the residents’ concerns.

However, Baugher attended Monday’s meeting and said no one contacted him.

“I am asking you to withhold approval until they can meet with us,” said Bernhard.

“We have to work within the letter of the law, within our scope of authority,” said Seibert.

Seibert had explained two weeks ago that because the county does not have zoning or home rule, it is virtually impossible to stop anyone from building businesses or structures anywhere they please.

Local voters defeated home rule by 63 percent on the 2004 General Election ballot, Seibert said.

Home rule would have also allowed the county to stop a company from hauling in human waste and spreading it on fields.

Seibert was prepared to go to court and file an injunction against Synagro Technologies, which supplies treated “bio-solids” hauled from New York sewage plants to local farmers free of charge.

Residents in the far western portions of the county complained about the stench from the waste on neighboring fields.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks intervened and got a promise from the Houston-based company that it will further treat the bio-solids for odor and work the fertilizer into the soil instead of spreading it on top of the ground.

Also, they will not spread it on pastureland.

Sparks said officials would monitor the company’s efforts to make sure there was no recurrence of the “public nuisance.”

Other business

In other business, the commission:

• Appointed former Limestone County circuit judge George Craig to head the Community Corrections Center.

“We are excited to have George Craig in this position,” said Seibert. “He brings with him a long list of credentials from his time on the bench. His integrity is impeccable.”

• Approved a contract with the director of courts for Limestone County Community Corrections to provide court-referral officer services at a reimbursable amount of $54,000.

• Appropriated $10,000 to the first-annual Spirit of Athens Storytelling festival, which will be held Oct. 26 and 27.

• Approved a job description for a mechanic/equipment operator III and revised the staffing plan to remove one equipment operator III.

• Removed one part-time seasonal grounds keeper from the staffing plan and added a grounds keeper for Cowford Campground because of heavier than expected use of the campground.

• Promoted Bryan Robinson to equipment operator II in District 4.

• Promoted Bobbi Bailey to elections director/administrative assistant for the probate judge.

• Gave final approval to Quail Ridge, a major subdivision in District I; final approval to Legacy Grove addition 1, a major subdivision in District 2; and preliminary approval to the Smith Place re-plat, a minor subdivision in District 4.

• Approved a 25-mph speed limit for these Southern Breeze Subdivision streets: Nani Drive, Wakea Drive, Mahalo Circle, Makani Lane, Lanani Drive and Kula Lane.

• Approved a 35 mph speed limit for Ed Ray Road, from East Limestone Road to Wells Road in District II.

• Approved polling location changes: Trinity Seventh Day Adventist to St. Mark Primitive Baptist on West Sanderfer Road; and Segers Road Fire Department to Lamb of God Lutheran Church on County Line Road.

This Week's Circulars