Spanish Fort’s effort to bring an additional 30 parcels of land and as many as 1,870 residents into the city through an annexation referendum failed by just three votes after provisional ballots were counted and certified at noon Tuesday in Bay Minette.
The final vote count was 170 against the annexation and 167 in favor of it. Last Tuesday’s referendum resulted in the annexation defeat by just a single vote, but 17 provisional votes had yet to be counted. After seven of those were disqualified, Probate Judge Tim Russell, Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack and Circuit Court Clerk Jody Wise Campbell counted just 10 more on Tuesday, resulting in six against the proposal and four in favor of it.
Spanish Fort Mayor Mike McMillan said it has been a long week waiting for the results to be finalized, adding that even though it was defeated, he was encouraged that about 50 percent of votes went the city’s way.
“Even though it didn’t pass, we still have a lot of people who do want to come into the city,” McMillan said shortly after the final tally. “There’s a chance that some people will try to annex on their own.”
The city is one of the youngest in coastal Alabama but also one the fastest growing. Incorporated on July 19, 1993, when 1990 Census data showed it had a population of 3,732, it has swollen to 6,798 residents in 2010 — an 82 percent increase in 10 years. McMillan said a single referendum failing won’t stop that growth.
“We are blessed to have a lot of undeveloped, raw land here,” McMillan said. “We are going to grow regardless.”
The city’s proposal would have affected approximately 750 rooftops, bringing in unincorporated rural areas north of the city as well as residents on Stagecoach Road and on the north side of Spanish Fort Estates, as well as Rayne Plantation, Grace Magnolias, Cambron and Old Highway 31.
If the proposal had passed, residents coming into the city through annexation would have been afforded police and zoning protections from the city. McMillan said there are a host of reasons why someone would vote against the proposal, but some residents did not want to pay the city’s 5 mill property tax. The city spent approximately $10,000 on the election.
Probate Judge Tim Russell said the provisional ballot count was completely confidential.
“That’s the process in America, and that’s the process here in Baldwin County,” Russell said.
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