"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - John Anderson

That's what many property owners in Alabama's Fort Morgan say. After years of annexation fears, those who want to preserve the simple way of life on the peninsula, are able to celebrate another victory.

The Alabama Legislature failed to pass House Bill 473, introduced by State Rep. Francis Holk-Jones (R-Foley), that would have allowed the City of Gulf Shores to annex property owned by seven parties.

Following a large gathering with local lawmakers and citizens, the legislation failed to make it to a vote.

Fort Morgan Meeting 2 Alabama News
Residents met with lawmakers in April about annexation proposal. Photo: Erica Thomas.

Holk-Jones told the dozens of citizens in attendance she sponsored the bill because she believes in personal property rights. However, she said after hearing from them, she took their concerns into consideration.

Fort Morgan Civic Association president Joe Emerson told 1819 News the death of the bill was simply another victory in an ongoing struggle to keep Fort Morgan one of the most unique places on the Gulf Coast. However, he said the work was not done.

"We know that the City of Gulf Shores will continue to work to annex properties on the Fort Morgan Peninsula," Emerson said.

Emerson said his group would continue to try to garner support from the Baldwin County delegation to protect the area. He said the majority of property owners and visitors want to keep high-density development out of Fort Morgan. He said over the past 20 years, efforts to make the area a Landmark District or allow Fort Morgan to incorporate have been unsuccessful.

"It feels like we're not being heard when we continuously say that we want the ability to control our own destiny in Fort Morgan," Emerson added. "We are one of the last areas where you can still feel like you're just going to an old beach town."

The Fort Morgan Civic Association will continue to work with state representatives and senators to protect the unincorporated area from zoning into Gulf Shores.

"I'm hoping that we can get some support from our public officials because we've been beating this drum for nearly 20 years that we want some kind of protections in place or the ability to make decisions about the future of Fort Morgan for ourselves," Emerson said.

Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said his administration has no desire to grow the city of Gulf Shores and has no intention of annexing property in Gulf Shores. However, he said the City would welcome those who want to be a part of Gulf Shores and take advantage of City services.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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