North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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February 26, 2014

Now what? Mt. Olive residents ponder what's next after compromise fails and annexation is rejected

MT. OLIVE — After a contentious fight between Mt. Olive residents over the annexation issue, opponents of merging a large portion of the community into Gardendale are breathing a sigh of relief, while annexation supporters are left to ponder what happens next.

Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips announced last week that a compromise effort to bring Mt. Olive students now zoned for Bragg Middle and Gardendale High schools would not pass legal challenges, and that the city could not afford to annex that large a part of Mt. Olive.

That brings to an end the opposing campaigns, and at least for the moment, neighbors who battled neighbors over the issue can pause, and churches who dealt with division within their congregations can return to normalcy.

The pro-annexation group MO Matters released a prepared statement Monday evening, expressing their disappointment in the outcome. The statement was given in response to a request from The North Jefferson News for reaction by MO Matters leaders to the failed compromise.

“We believe that the efforts put forth by the city and our state leaders were genuine and meant to be exactly what it was described as, a compromise plan,” read the statement issued by MO Matters leaders Tracy Calvert and Craig Goolsby. “Unfortunately the people of Mt. Olive will not be provided the opportunity to vote on any plan; the city declined to proceed with their efforts because of concerns expressed by attorneys and the opinion of the State Board of Education. Because these opinions were not favorable, and some thought they could jeopardize the city’s separation efforts, the city leadership made a decision not to proceed with their plan for Mt. Olive.

“We are still of the opinion that annexation is the ONLY permanent solution that guarantees school zoning and protects our property values. The city leadership has firmly said that annexation is not financially feasible. We have asked on numerous occasions when the city planned to be in the position to find it financially feasible; based on the response, we do not anticipate that to be an option in the near or distant future.”

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