At a work session Tuesday morning at Town Hall, the council debated the pros and cons of the proposal, which Mayor Paul Jennings says was first brought to their attention a few months ago. In the proposal, the developers — Deerfoot Ridge 32 LLC, according to published reports — would pay impact fees and service charges to Argo for protecting the proposed development, located off Deerfoot Parkway.
The proposed site is between Argo and Trussville but not within Trussville’s corporate limits, and Trussville Mayor Gene Melton said the city will not annex it as long as it is intended for use as an apartment complex.
Melton sent a letter to the Argo Council asking them not to agree to any such arrangement. Jennings read the letter aloud during Tuesday’s work session.
“It’s a no-win for the entire area,” Melton wrote. “It does nothing to help any of us, except getting Argo a little money in the short term.
“I hope Argo will consider our concerns, in light of the fact that they’re having money thrown at them. We’re all in this together.”
Included with the letter is an attorney general’s opinion on a similar case, stating Argo could provide such protection, with Trussville’s consent. Ultimately, Jennings said, the decision must be in the best interest of Argo.
“We represent the people living in Argo,” Jennings said. “Mayor Melton represents the people living in Trussville. We’re going to do what’s best for our own people; Mayor Melton is going to do what’s best for his people.”
Protecting any apartment complex will be costly, based on the estimates of the council and fire Chief Mike Platts. Argo would have to purchase a ladder truck (roughly $700,000 without equipment, according to Platts), hire more personnel and bring its old fire station — located in the old town hall on U.S. 11 in Jefferson County — up to full operation.
“You’re going to have a big expense,” Councilman George Howell said. “The only way this is going to work is if (the developers) put up a couple million.”
For the fiscal year 2010, Platts asked the Argo Council for roughly $250,000 to help fill out his budget. Councilman Bill Rutledge estimated that amount would at least double, should the contract go through. Further, he noted that Argo’s zoning laws do not allow the structure in the town limits.
“I’m just looking at the worst-case scenario,” he said. “In my experience, we’ve always gotten the worst-case scenario.”
Councilman Herschel Phillips noted that the town is “trying to survive” financially.
“I think most of us are considering this because we’re going to run out of money before the end of the year,” he said. “That’s a big factor.”
Councilman Bill Leake agreed.
“We owe it to all our employees to investigate all possible sources of revenue before we have a layoff,” he said.
Only a few members of the audience spoke up — one of them, Carmon Love, is a resident of Trussville.
“This (development) is going to impact our school system,” he said. “I want y’all to think about that before you make your decision. You get the money, Trussville gets the apartments, (Clay-Chalkville) gets the students.”
Contact Will Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.