On Monday, a Jefferson County judge ruled to amend a temporary restraining order against the City of Hoover to restrict city officials from soliciting properties in a nearby unincorporated community for annexation. 

On August 8, voters in the Indian Ford Fire District will decide whether or not their neighborhood will join Helena. The Fire District is located in both Jefferson and Shelby Counties.

According to reports, the district’s board of directors contacted the city earlier this year with 200 signatures from residents in favor of annexation.

Helena Mayor Brian Puckett told 1819 News News on Tuesday that the community already receives services from Helena, such as policing, and that most Indian Ford residents want to join the city. 

However, Helena may not be the only city eyeing the area. On Friday, Helena sued Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato and the Hoover City Council for soliciting petitions for annexation, accusing the city of illegally accepting petitions for annexation from particular properties located in the Fire District and, therefore, already involved in the Helena annexation vote.

According to Puckett, Hoover officials promised particular businesses in the area tax abatements. For example, he said the City of Hoover convinced a gas station owner to tax abatements in return for signing a petition for annexation.

“We started this process by passing a resolution and recording it in the Judge Probate for Jefferson County back on June 12,” Puckett said. “So, the resolution in the district is based off of the property description of the entire district of the whole. That’s what we were working off of. That’s what we did our analysis on to determine if it was feasible.”

“What Hoover had attempted to do was to come in and cherry-pick certain commercial properties so that they could see the revenue of that,” he continued. “We had requested the temporary restraining order to allow us to get through the process by following the state laws to allow the people of the Indian Ford Fire District to have the vote and have their voice be heard.”

On Friday, a Hoover official told the Hoover Sun that the city is seeking to annex 200 acres of land in the Fire District. He said 20 individuals own the land and may have commercial value for the city.

Circuit Court Judge David Hobdy granted the initial restraining order against Hoover on Monday morning. This kept Hoover from attempting to solicit votes for annexation in the Fire District until after the Helena annexation election. 

Late Monday, Hobdy called amended the lawsuit to allow neither Hoover nor Helena to campaign landowners for annexation until they receive approval from a Jefferson County Court.

The Hoover City Council agenda for its regular meeting on Monday night included 13 of the Fire District properties proposed for annexation. The properties were read aloud during the meeting, but the council will not vote proposed annexation until at least its meeting in August.

Hobdy called for an emergency hearing on Tuesday afternoon, allowing both sides to argue over the temporary restraining order. 

According to Puckett, Hobdy requested proposed orders from both sides to be turned in by 5 p.m. and then granted Helena another 10 business days to continue the election process in the Indian Ford Fire District. 

Puckett said that, despite the current conflict, Helena and the City of Hoover had gotten along well in the past. 

1819 News reached out to both Hoover City Council president John Lyda and Brocato for comment. Neither responded. 

“The City of Helena and Indian Ford are working hand-in-hand to make sure we do everything we can to protect those residents,” Puckett assured.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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