Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

What You Won't Hear About SC Comprehensive Plan and "Qutside" Developers

**Section on "Outside Developers" appears in second section: " A Shelby County Snippet"

Socialism ( Shelby County Style) versus the American Way
Alliance For Citizen's Rights

The voters of the Camp Branch district (also referred to as a beat) located in Shelby County, Alabama, on Tuesday, June 27, 2006, by a margin of 58%, rejected a zoning proposal that was touted by local officials.
The margin affirmed the fact that there is a majority of voters that understand that “zoning” encumbers private property rights.  The opposite position was taken by Shelby County’s Planning Commission during a public meeting held on June 20, 2006.    

The June 20 meeting should have been a forum wherein local official would have forthrightly discussed the issues involved on the coming referendum.  Sadly this was not the case.  

The sample ballot provides some of the fundamental information which should have been open for discussion – the voters were asked:
“Shall the zoning regulations, the master plan and the authority of the Planning Commission of Shelby County, Alabama, be applicable to the Camp Branch Zoning Beat of Shelby County, Alabama?”  
Hence, the ballot is asking - Is the voter willing to grant to the “Planning Commission” authority over property rights in the Camp Branch Zoning Beat?  

Why does the Planning Commission require zoning authority? - In order to implement the tenets of the County’s “MASTER PLAN”.  County enforcement officers must have zoning authority – it is their primary ENFORCEMENT tool – see footnote 1.

The sample ballot also states:
“Only those qualified electors residing outside of the municipal limits and in the non-zoned portion of the Beat shall be permitted to vote or sign a petition calling for the election in the Beat concerned.”

This stipulation denies the property owners, who have property inside the district, but reside outside of the district, the right to vote on matters directly related to their property.  

Thus, without identifying themselves as socialist/communist, Shelby County officials have implemented the prime tenet of the communist manifesto – the abolition of private property.  Granted, the abolition is not yet complete, but the direction is absolutely discernable and without corrective action (an awakening of the political will of the people), complete abolition of private property will be forthcoming. 

Shelby County officials, whose rightful position is to protect inalienable rights, have aided and abetted socialist planners in the dissolution of private property rights.  

Why? During the June 20 meeting, when the Planning Commission could have informed the audience that the current system of zoning was viewed by the County as the fundamental cause of land use problems in Shelby County, and that after the authority to zone was transferred to the Planning Commission, the current system would be scrapped - the Planning Commission neglected to do so.  

The following quote substantiates the preceding claim.
“Shelby County's current zoning and subdivision regulations are conventionally structured… regulations, mandating strict separation of use and intensity and the virtual prohibition the type of place making the Comprehensive Plan seeks to promote. The effect of these regulations has been the suburban sprawl development pattern that the Comprehensive Plan seeks to discourage. This is clearly incompatible with plan implementation.” Section III page 2, (emphasis added.)

The new zoning system for Shelby County will implement “performance zoning/standards” 2, green infrastructure 2, infill 3, mix use zones 4, transferable development rights 5, etc.  The new system WILL NOT protect private property rights as it currently exists – it will, however, implement “sustainable development” 6, the antithesis of liberty.
Footnotes – see the Shelby County Comprehensive Plan

1. “Zoning is the single most effective tool for ensuring that land development follows a path consistent with the vision of the plan.” Section III page 2 of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
2.  Section II page 3
3.  Section II page 2
4.  The term is used multiple times throughout Section II.
5.  Section III
6.  “Objective ED-5 Embrace sustainable community economic development strategies to focus on “growth without expansion” through sustainable development.”  Section II 49
“Shelby County recognizes that this current trend is not a sustainable development pattern.”  Section II page 55
A Shelby County SNIPPET
By:  Don Casey
This snippet (article) of the Shelby County saga begins with a quote from a letter from Alex Dudchock, County Manager, dated August 25, 2005 and requesting residents in the Sterrett Vandiver Beat sign a petition that would petition local government to hold a referendum on zoning.

“The structure of our legal zoning authority and the historical motivating factors that communities respond to are typically an unpopular planned use or nuisance occurring in an area, which is incompatible with their communities.”

The preceding statement implies that “unpopular planned use or nuisance occurring in an area” would be prevented through the application of zoning.

In the following statement, Mr. Dudchock implies that “urgency” is required, a tactic often utilized in high pressure sales.
“…it is often too late to get the zoning process completed and in place to affect the location and intensity of a proposed development that triggered the initial interest in a zoning petition and subsequent public vote.” 

The sales tactic “buy now before it's too late” worked.

The property owners in the Sterrett Vandiver Beat voted to grant to the county government the authority to zone.

Employing the unscrupulous sales tactic, “bait and switch”, Mr. Dudchock’s letter failed to inform the recipient that zoning as generally comprehended is one of the root causes of Shelby County’s plight and would be completely revamped as soon as authority to zone was granted to local government.

“Shelby County's current zoning and subdivision regulations are conventionally structured….regulations, mandating strict separation of use and intensity and the virtual prohibition the type of place making the Comprehensive Plan seeks to promote. The affect of these regulations has been the suburban sprawl development pattern that the Comprehensive Plan seeks to discourage. This is clearly incompatible with plan implementation.” Shelby County Comprehensive Plan, Section IV page 2 – emphasis added.

What has occurred since the referendum, which approved zoning for the Sterrett Vandiver Beat, is the equivalent of pouring salt into the open wound of ignorance.

Chimney Rock – the “salt” – is a “planned” community of approximately 3,000 dwellings that will be constructed in the once rural landscape of northeast Shelby County. The “planned” high density community is just the sort of development that residents of the Sterrett Vandiver Beat had hoped to prevent through zoning - it is in reality the type of development prescribed by the county’s Comprehensive Plan, a detail that officials failed to mention prior to the referendum.

The “planned community” was made public with considerable fanfare – front page newspaper articles, TV coverage and a “charrette”--which is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers, and others collaborate on a vision for development. So says “The Town Paper” a newspaper publication that was provided at no charge during the charrette.

News Article on Exquisite Development whose website no longer exists and the company is inactive (that's quite telling isn't it? Weren't there enough "local" development companies that could have been used and been glad to get the work? Wouldn't it have also kept the money in Alabama? Way too many questions with all of this that just don't make good sense.):
Exquisite Development officials could not be reached for comment Saturday. But its Web site, www.exquisitedevelopment.com, describes some of the projects it has been working on, including:

Perhaps its biggest test in terms of the environment and other developmental issues may come in Alabama, where it is involved in a project called Chimney Rock, a residential village of more than 3,000 homes and as many as 400 units of combined residential and commercial space.

The project would be built at the foot of Oak Mountain in Shelby County southeast of Birmingham. The Birmingham News reports that the project is to embrace New Urbanism, in which homes, jobs and commercial areas are within walking distance of each other.

That's in keeping with Shelby County's Comprehensive Plan, which aims to combat suburban sprawl. As a result the project drew an initial favorable reaction from the county manager, Alex Dudchock.

Mike Dooley, Exquisite Development's operations manager, is quoted in the newspaper as saying a majority of the Alabama project acreage would be protected by a conservation easement, including a lot of ridgeline property.

Dooley, who also is playing a lead role in the Sunlight deal, is quoted in the paper as voluntarily committing to donate 15 acres for an elementary school on the property.

"I think it's the responsibility of the developer to provide the appropriate infrastructure for the community, which includes schools,"
he said.

However, school officials have said there may be a greater need for a middle school, which may require more acreage.

A significant issue surrounding the development involves Exquisite Development's desire to have a four-lane bridge built over a reservoir and an access road widened and straightened, the *Birmingham News has reported. Environmentalists fear that would attract development in an area that has been protected because it is a source of Birmingham's drinking water.
*(Note--Birmingham News article appears in entirety due to archived status at the end of this page.)

During the “planning session”, held over a six-day period (July 7 – July 12) in the upscale Birmingham Grandview Marriott on US 280, promoters/facilitators first claimed that plans for the community would not be developed until the public and local officials had expressed their thoughts on the project.

Considering that an artist rendering of two large buildings one at approximately ten stories high was posted on Exquisite Development's (one of two developers promoting the project) website, the comment was met with a certain amount of skepticism.
*(Note the very tangled web of connections making it very difficult to trace names--similar to PAC to PAC transfer arrangements. That should have sent up immediate red flags and brought about a barrage of questions to Shelby County officials. Why would they choose to do "business" in this manner?)
Other anomalies

The newspaper publication circulated at the charrette listed Ridgeview Development, LLC in Brentwood, TN as a contact for the “planned community”. The area code for the phone number is for northwest Florida.

Further inquiry revealed that the address, 330 Franklin Road Suite 135A, Box 107, Brentwood, TN 37027, listed for Ridgeview Development, LLC is the UPS Store. The UPS Store provides mail drop service. The phone number for the UPS Store is (615) 661-9606.
Additionally, the State of Tennessee Secretary of State website does not list Ridgeview Development, LLC  as a corporation under the laws of Tennessee.

The high density development, Chimney Rock, will utilize land use regulations (zoning ordinances) that comply with the principles of “New Urbanism”. “New Urbanism” (3) is part and parcel of Agenda 21’s “sustainable development”.

(3a)  The process requires human population centers to restrict all activity to six land use categories. New Urbanist refers to the concept as “transect zoning”.

The following quote from Shelby County’s Comprehensive Plan exquisitely articulates the concept:
“Each (town) center shall have the greatest density and mix of uses at its core, with intensity and scale transitioning to rural along a transect (or continuum of intensity, scale and design) into the Rural Landscape.” Emphasis added.  Section III page 6

A graphic depiction of the concept shown below is from Section II page 21 of Shelby County’s “Comprehensive Plan”
Human development beyond the outer ring will be PROHIBITED! The existence of an outright prohibition on human development in the rural landscape/green infrastructure will, of course, be denied. But, without the authorization for the following services listed in the following quote, building permits will be impossible to obtain. If your property is beyond the “transition area”you will own the property in name only while continuing to pay property taxes.

“The Transition Area boundaries should set the limits of water and sewer extension, police and fire protection, planning boundaries…” Section II page 21

This stipulation in Shelby County’s Comprehensive Plan is also reflected in the following quote from “New Urbanist” dogma:
"The Transect has six zones, moving from rural to urban. It begins with two that are entirely rural in character: Rural preserve (protected areas in perpetuity); and Rural reserve (areas of high environmental or scenic quality that are not currently preserved, but perhaps should be.)"

                   Jefferson said:
“A nation that believes that it can live long, free and ignorant,
believes what never was and never will be”
References and citations:
1. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work
- Course - "Sustainable Development" spring 2002.
  "Facilitators are teachers, trainers and organizers who serve as "cultivators" and "midwives" for community change. They may be social workers, planners, administrators, public health workers or educators." “Near the end of the semester students will present a participatory plan for engaging with the community for sustainable development work.”

1a:  http://www.exquisitedevelopment.com/projects.asp (non existent now)
2.   http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/soscorp/
3. 14th Congress for the New Urbanism, Providence, Rhode Island – Speaker Rt Hon John Prescott MP, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom June 7, 2006
“…we share our mutual interests. You call it the new urbanism. In Britain, we call it creating sustainable communities.” “Sustainable communities balance the social, economic and environmental concerns of their community – meeting the needs of existing and future generations, and respecting the needs of others in diverse communities.”

From the Retired Warrior Website and the "Selling" of the Shelby County Comprehensive Plan
November 25, 2005 
On an unseasonably cold evening in mid-November at the Vandiver Church of God a meeting, concerning zoning, began about 7:00pm. 

A crowd of approximately 130 was seated when Tod McDonald (Planning Service Supervisor, Shelby County) began his presentation. 

He started by saying someone had asked him to address zoning in this area. It was related to me he was then asked who and he indicated he could not reveal this information (how convenient). We have found in the past, this deception has been used to gain access to certain areas to push zoning issues. 

He went on to say he and his assistants were there to explain what zoning is and is not. He said one gives up their rights to their property when an agreement is made for certain uses of the private property. He presented a few pencils in his hand and indicated the pencils represented an individual’s property rights. He handed one out and said, “This right is given up when you sign an agreement for someone to hunt on your property.". He handed out another pencil and said you lose another right when you grant an easement for the power company to run a line through your property. 

He compared zoning to these. 

In typical Shelby County governmental deception he failed to explain, you do not give up any rights to your property for hunting or utility easement, you ALLOW and control these uses and you can modify, suspend or terminate the agreement when you so desire (a little more difficult with the utility, though). With zoning you DO lose these rights and the county planners dictate to you how your property is to be used. 

Mr. McDonald overlooked this little tidbit of information. He turned the presentation over to a young lady to explain more in-depth. She began her slide presentation with the standard slides of how zoning will benefit everyone and protect the use of their property. She said, “If one would read through Alabama Act 82-693, (a very boring read which one wouldn’t even want to attempt on a slow Saturday afternoon) explains how private property would be protected.” 

After the short slide presentation she entertained questions. This is the part the upper echelon of Shelby County bureaucracy must really dislike and in this situation was akin to feeding this poor woman to the wolves. 

A citizen asked what if they wanted zoning but not the master plan. She said yes, that was possible. It must be noted that all the slides she displayed had “Shelby County Master Plan” in the upper right hand portion of the slide. 

Obviously, this was being presented in a deceptive manner. 

Another resident asked why zoning is needed. The answer essentially was to protect ones property. Now ask yourself, who does your property need to be protected from? Several other people asked similar questions and the County representatives attempted to use the construction of a plant in Alabaster and how the local residents could not stop it from happening. 

At this point Terry Regan stood and very eloquently explained how property owners were being targeted to be stripped of their rights concerning the use of their property. He went on to say his house had burned down and since he had less than an acre to rebuild, he was having difficulty with the county because of zoning. 

Under the zoning, property owners in unincorporated areas with less than an acre would have a difficult time building while many of the “Special Districts” routinely build new homes on lots as small as a half acre. 

Another resident asked the question differently about zoning without the master plan. Mr. McDonald stated, “You do not have to have the Master Plan with zoning.” 

This was more than I could take. Mr. Regan began to respond when I interrupted him. I stood and said this is not true. A vote for zoning is a vote for the Master Plan and the authority of the unelected planning commissioners. 

Mr. McDonald said, “No it doesn’t.” I emphatically stated, “I’ve read Act 82-693 and according to this act in Section 8, The ballot shall be so worded as to give the voter the opportunity to vote either 'Yes' or 'No' as to whether the voter wishes the authority of the commission, its master plan, and the zoning regulations to apply to the beat.” (This is the direct quote from the Act). 

Mr. McDonald said, “Calm down!”  I responded by saying, “Why should I calm down when you are trying to take away property owners rights?”  

Also, according to Amendment 707, Shelby County Home Rule and Act 82-693, the County Commission has the authority to stop the construction of the plant in Alabaster. If this authority did not exist then explain how these “Special District” housing developments managed to change the zoning from Agriculture to residential before there was any vote on zoning.

Perhaps, this is another great deception to strip you of your property rights. Can you imagine voting for zoning only to find out you now have a Master Plan and fall under the authority of the commission, which under Zoning Regulations of Shelby County, May 4, 2004, page 144, Article XXVI. Amendments and Changes, Section 1, Requirements for Change. “Whenever the public necessity, convenience, general welfare or good zoning practice warrants such action, the Planning Commission may amend, supplement, modify or repeal the regulations or zoning district boundaries herein established.” 

Another gentleman stood, faced Mr. McDonald and said, “I don’t appreciate you using my tax dollars to send this stuff (propaganda) out.” Before Mr. McDonald could respond the lady who posed the first question stood and said, “I’ve worked with my neighbors for years and I would much rather talk to you or you (pointing to friends) about what to do with our property instead of some county person.”

Almost all the citizens present chimed in at this point. 

Mr. McDonald asked, “Is this the general consensus here?” Overwhelmingly, everyone said, “YES”

He then threw up his hands and said, “Then, this meeting is over, we have nothing else to offer”. He and those who accompanied him gathered their things and left, essentially “ran-out-of-town” by informed residents. 

Although small, this is a great victory for property owners. 

You can bet these attacks on our property rights will not go away. It is best for all of you to stay informed and be wary of any government entity who claims to be acting in your best interest. 

Remember, when the next vote for County Commissioner in you district comes up, do you really want to reelect someone who tramples your property rights? 

Rather than listen to what they say, look at what they’ve done while in office.

This country’s greatness was founded on individual freedoms and responsibilities with limited government. As Ronald Reagan stated, “Man is not free unless government is limited… As government expands, liberty contracts.
The great myth of "sustainable communities" and why they don't work for you the citizen:
The Livable Communities Act--A Report Card

Birmingham News
July 7, 2006
Section; News Page 1-A Volume 119

3,000 houses planned at foot of Oak Mountain Chimney Rock using New Urbanism ideas
NANCY WILSTACH News staff writer
The village of Chimney Rock, a massive residential development with a mixed-use town center, is proposed to rise on 1,650 acres of verdant valley and hillsides at the foot of Oak Mountain, mostly south of the Jefferson-Shelby county line.
Ridgeview Development Co., associated with Destin, Fla.- based Exquisite Development, and Brian Wright of Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative are looking at building more than 3,000 houses and as many as 400 units with combined residential and commercial space on the west side of Shelby County 41. The site is south of Alabama 25, north of Fowler Lake Road and east of Lake Purdy.
The project is to be an example of the school of design known as New Urbanism, a return to traditional neighborhood developments where residents live, work and shop in the same area without necessarily having to drive from one place to another.
The development's town center is to include retail shops and restaurants, according to Exquisite's operations manager for development, Mike Dooley.
Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock said he was impressed with the company's initial efforts to create a community that complies with the county's comprehensive plan.
That plan, approved in 2004, strives to combat suburban sprawl through development of walkable communities where automobile trips are kept to a minimum and housing is clustered around shops and restaurants.
For all age groups
Dooley said the community would combine aspects of such developments as Mt Laurel in Shelby County and The Villages in central Florida. Wright was a part of the 1988 Kentlands development in Gaithersburg, Md., considered the first New Urbanism neighborhood intended for year-round living. Today, thousands of people live and work there.
''We want to create a community to serve all age groups,'' Dooley said. ''Our thoughts are to include an area for assisted living, but we have to make sure an assisted living company is interested in coming in.''
He said the developers recognize the strains development imposes on existing transportation networks.
''We have plans to improve Grants Mill Road,'' Dooley said. Those plans include extending the road to the western edge of the Chimney Rock property. ''We have discussed this, but it is by no means a done deal,'' Dooley said.
That arrangement would relieve some of the additional strain on crowded U.S. 280.
''We will be following the guidelines of the new comp plan, with green spaces and parks,'' Dooley said. ''We plan to have 50 percent green space with the majority in a conservation easement, which means it cannot be developed in the future. A lot of the land along the ridge will be involved in that easement.''
The land on the Alabama 119 side of the ridge lies in the Lake Purdy watershed, he said. About 20 acres of the site is in Jefferson County.
Brainstorming time
Dudchock, county planners, engineers and public safety and school officials, along with neighbors from such developments as Shoal Creek, have been invited to a planning charrette that starts tonight and continues through Wednesday.
''Charrette'' is planner-speak for an intense brainstorming session in which the developers solicit ideas from participants to shape the master plan for a project.
Dooley said the general public can attend the sessions that start at 7 tonight with an opening presentation at the Birmingham Grandview Marriott.
Workshops continue Saturday with a public meeting at 9:30 a.m. and a session with county and school officials at 2 p.m. Designers then will work with the information they have gathered to present a ''Pin-up and Review'' at 3 p.m. Sunday for public examination.
Subsequent meetings will involve public works, transportation, fire, police, builders and architects, with a grand final presentation set for 7 p.m. Wednesday.
EMAIL: nwilstach@bhamnews.com
More than 3,000 houses in the Chimney Rock development
As many as 400 mixed-use, live-work units
A town center with shops and restaurants
Half of the development left as green space - parks or undisturbed land
Possible extension of Grants Mill Road to the development's western edge
WHAT'S NEXT A master plan for the development must be submitted to the Shelby County Planning Commission.
Birmingham News
Record Number: MERLIN_3391568

Birmingham News
July 14, 2006
Section NEWS Page 1-A Volume 119

Extension of Grants Mill Road proposed

KATHERINE BOUMA News staff writer

A developer wants a four-lane bridge built over Lake Purdy and Grants Mill Road extended and widened in a proposal that area governments say could route traffic off U.S. 280.
The Birmingham Water Works Board, Jefferson County, Shelby County and Irondale have been discussing the deal, and officials say they expect Birmingham and others to be involved.
Although no commitments have been made, river advocates say they are concerned that government groups, the Water Works Board in particular, are negotiating to enhance the development potential for the sensitive land around a drinking water reservoir.
''It's not responsible, and it's not good planning, to lure development into the heart of our drinking water source using public money,'' said Beth Stewart, executive director of the Cahaba River Society.
The Water Works hopes to gain a safer bridge in a better location through the deal, said spokesman Mike Vann.
Now, narrow Grants Mill Road winds down from Interstate 459 to Lake Purdy, crosses the lake with a bridge of less than two standard lanes and ends at Alabama 119. Plans to widen Grants Mill to four lanes, straighten it and extend it all the way to 119 are ''in the very infant stages,'' said Wayne Sullivan, director of the Jefferson County roads and transportation department.
But a map presented by Exquisite Development, the Destin, Fla., company involved with the Chimney Rock development, shows plans to extend the road even farther. Ultimately, the map shows Grants Mill Road ending at Shelby County 41, also known as Dunnavant Valley Road, which leads back to U.S. 280.
The project has been presented as routing traffic from Chimney Rock, a development of 3,000 houses and 400 other residential and commercial units.
The developer could not be reached for comment.
Jefferson County has been discussing widening Grants Mill Road for many years as a way to relieve U.S. 280 traffic, Sullivan said. ''Certainly, Grants Mill Road needs to be improved,'' he said.
But the Alabama Department of Transportation, which is not involved in the project, said it's unlikely that a road several miles from U.S. 280 would provide any relief.
River society opposition
Lake Purdy is a reservoir on the Little Cahaba River designed to provide the area with water during dry times, when the Cahaba River is not flowing high enough for the Water Works to use its intake near U.S. 280.
During dry times, including now, the water is released from Lake Purdy and is caught by a dam on the Cahaba River near the Shelby County line, where it pools to be withdrawn.
That, argues the river society, makes the land around Lake Purdy some of the most sensitive in the Cahaba basin.
The Water Works has long insisted the same. It owns much of the land around the lake, conserving it without development to preserve the purity of the watershed.
Vann said his board still puts the protection of Lake Purdy above all other considerations. However, he said, the bridge would hardly be the first or the largest. Interstate 459 and U.S.
280 both cross the Cahaba River above the drinking water intake or right at the reservoir that stores the water for use.
Water Works officials could not answer how the road would pass through Oak Ridge Mountain, which is largely owned by the Water Works, or Oak Mountain, which is not part of the Cahaba basin.
''The project is at such early stages that it's too early to tell at this point,'' said James Sutton, a spokesman for the water board.
Project funding
Officials involved in the negotiations say the project is likely to be financed by a partnership among the governments involved and the developers.
An engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation said it's unlikely any of it will get state dollars, since Grants Mill Road is locally owned and maintained.
''We haven't actually seen anything,'' said Brian Davis, a DOT engineer in Birmingham. ''Everything has been verbal.''
But, he said, it appears most likely it would be a county project. He said no one has applied to DOT for a construction permit.
Vann said the Water Works, which owns the land that would be required for much of the road and bridge, will ensure that the lake is not polluted by bridge construction and that it is built to the highest environmental standards.
Stewart said the bridge is almost beside the point.
Instead of participating in a planning process for the upper Cahaba watershed, local governments are talking about infrastructure that makes development attractive in the most environmentally sensitive area, she said.
''The local government has dropped the ball on the upper Cahaba planning,'' she said. ''They're not doing the follow-up land use planning to identify where is it appropriate to develop and where is it not.''
Birmingham News
Record Number: MERLIN_3407235

More on this soon.