An opinion by the Alabama Attorney Gen. Troy King has apparently cleared up the issue of planning jurisdiction in the five miles extending from Phenix City city limits into Russell County.
The attorney general's office ruled that the city maintains its jurisdiction throughout the five-mile area, said County Attorney Ken Funderburk during Tuesday's meeting of the Russell County Commission.
The county and city had jointly asked for the opinion after conflicting subdivision regulations bogged down the permitting process for some new developments in Russell County, but inside the jurisdiction of the Phenix City Planning Commission.
"The city has the exclusive jurisdiction within the five miles," Funderburk said. He added that the city plans to pull back its planning jurisdiction to the police jurisdiction — 1.5 miles outside of the city limits.
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The two governments are expected to reach an agreement on the changes in the near future. The county commission and Phenix City Council will have to pass resolutions setting the limits for the planning jurisdiction.
Until recently, the general rule of thumb on conflicting regulations had been that the most stringent of the two would apply.
But recently County Engineer Richard Gohde had refused to sign off on county subdivision plans which did not meet the county's requirements.
An example is lot sizes — the county requires a minimum lot size of 100 feet, but the city allows a minimum lot size of 50 feet with water and sewer.
The county engineer felt signing off on subdivisions with requirements different than the county's would have been unethical if not illegal.
Funderburk said the attorney general's opinion should settle the issue inside of Phenix City's police jurisdiction.
In other county actions, Gohde gave the commission updates on a number of projects.
The county is completing grading and drainage work on a Wende Road paving project. The road surface was elevated in one area to prevent pooling, but the elevation caused pooling on adjoining private property. The highway department has worked recently to correct that problem.
Gohde said the county is completing work on the Pitts Trailer Industrial Access Road in PIttsview.
"We have completed the clearing and grubbing and replaced and extended the culvert pipe along U.S. Highway 431 and put down the base material," he said. "Once Pitts Trailer has marked the driveway entrances, we will complete laying out and have it paved by contract."