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Cooperative District formed for Exit 212 corridor  

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Capital Improvements Cooperative District held its first meeting on Oct. 21.

According to a press release from the Chilton County Industrial Development Authority, “The Cooperative District will coordinate development activities, including land purchases, infrastructure expansion and construction” related to the Interstate 65, Exit 212 corridor.

Best use of land and potential projects are outlined in the Exit 212 Master Plan, which is available for the public to view on the IDA website and the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce website.

“Capital Improvement Cooperative Development Districts are provided by statutes codified as

Chapter 99B of Title 11 of the Code of Alabama 1975, and have been used in a majority of the

large retail/mixed use developments, across our State, over the last several years,” the release states.

During the meeting, Jeff Price was appointed chairperson. Bobby Cook was appointed vice chair, and Mary Mell Smith was appointed secretary.

As with the newly established Alabama Agriculture and Exhibition Center Cooperative District, the Capital Improvements Cooperative District only has three members.

The Board for the Capital Improvements Cooperative District adopted bylaws and the corporate seal during the meeting as well as accepting the purchase contract for 43 acres on the east side of the Alabama Highway 145 and 9 acres on the west side that had been approved by the Clanton City Council the night before.

With the transfer of the agreement, the Cooperative District has a 30-day option on the property.

The maximum bond agreement for the property would be 12 years at 3% interest. The debt would belong to the Cooperative District but would be backed by the credit rating of the City of Clanton. Funding for the Cooperative District comes from the City of Clanton and the District would own the land purchased. As land is sold, the funds are used to pay off the debt of purchasing the land. If the district is ever dissolved, all property held by the Cooperative District would become assets of the city.

Several audience members had concerns about allocating $3.2 million to the purchase of property without a specific plan about what would be placed there. A developer, who is working on a retail development in Alabaster, said the property being purchased is too far away from the Interstate 65 for retail to be successful. The land has been stated to be about a quarter mile from the Interstate 65.

The city has contracted with NextSite to work with prospective retail establishments to come to the site.

The fact that local companies were not used for the negotiation of the land sale was also a point of contention. One audience member suggested that if a local company had been used land owners would have been more willing to sell at a lower price.

Price said the city had contracted with companies that had done this kind of work previously.

Smith said there were several public meetings held, which land owners attended, during the development of the master plan.

“Our goal was to bring growth here while we could,” Price said.

Concerns were also voiced about what happens if the proposed Alabama Farm Center at Alfa Centennial Park never becomes a reality.

Price said Alfa has already committed to the project, and while anything could happen during the process, organization is need to draw new business.

Smith agreed saying everyone will need to work together to see progress.

Concerns were also expressed about the lack of information publicly released about the property before a vote was made. Because of the competitive nature of some of the business discussed, Cooperative District board members cannot discuss negotiations that may be in progress.

The meeting dissolved into heated discussion between the board members and audience members for several minutes until Price finally made a motion to adjourn.