BEAR CREEK - The issue of whether or not the property of Bear Creek Mayor Tammie Batchelor is located in the town limits has been resolved, with documents showing the property was approved 35 years ago to be annexed into the town limits, but the ordinance approving it was never recorded at the probate judge’s office until recently.
Information has been circulated on social media claiming the mayor’s residence located on Highway 241 in the Mountain Home area, was not inside the city limits, so Shane Cook and Cole Christopher, attorneys for the town, went to work uncovering the truth about the situation.
“There was a question that came to my office about the mayor of Bear Creek, Tammie Batchelor, whether she lived in the city limits of Bear Creek or not,” Cook stated. “That came to our attention.”
Cook and Christopher looked online and found public GIS maps for Marion County, where it appeared the residence was not in the city limits, Cook explained.
The attorneys then did research through ordinances passed by the town council concerning annexation of properties through the years.
Ordinance #165, passed by the Bear Creek Town Council, was approved Feb. 24, 1986, where certain sections of property including Mountain Home Church on Highway 241 was annexed into the town limits, along with other properties in that area. This property is near the property where the mayor’s residence is currently located.
The ordinance--which was signed by Mayor Larry McCurley, Clerk Bobby Bishop along with council members Dallon Thrasher, Drennon Veal, R.C. Lauderdale, Thomas Foster and Bob McCay--was filed in the Marion County Probate Judge’s Office March 7, 1986, according to a copy of the ordinance.
Attorneys also found a separate ordinance #165-A, where more sections of property in the area of 241, including the parcel where the mayor currently resides, were annexed into the town limits.
The ordinance, signed by the same mayor, clerk and council members, was approved April 28, 1986, but for some reason Ordinance 165A was never filed in the Marion County Probate Judge’s Office, according to Cook.
“We are getting it filed right now,” Cook pointed out.
“There is nothing we can find in the law that affects that,” Christopher added.
Since Ordinance 165A was never filed in the probate office, the GIS map system online would not show that the parcel of property where Batchelor now resides, along with the other affected parcels at that time, would be located in the town limits, Cook explained.
“It’s just like a deed,” he said. “If you don’t go file your deed, then the mapper don’t know how to change the property,” he added. “She (the probate judge) did have the description to change the city limits here and put people in.
“When things pop up, we just have to look into them and try to fix them as we go,” he added. “A lot of people don’t even pay attention to their tax map. They just pay their taxes when they come due, so it’s gone on for that many years, and no one has ever noticed or had never come forward before.”
“I will say this, that after several hours spent at the Marion County Courthouse and working with the Tax Assessor’s office, they did confirm that my property was annexed into the Bear Creek city limits in 1986, and I do reside inside the city limits as well,” noted Mayor Batchelor.
When property is annexed into the town limits, landowners of the affected properties must signal their agreement of such a measure by providing their signatures giving permission of their properties to come into the town limits, officials said.
“They had to petition to get it to come in, and then the city had to do the ordinance to accept it,” Cook said. Athel Mann, Eva Mann, Donald Stidham, Juanell Stidham, Eddie Mann and Kathy Mann were listed on the ordinance as the affected property owners for the annexation under Ordinance 165A.
Attorneys have found that about an acre of property of the parcel where Mayor Batchelor currently resides, was never annexed in, because it was owned by a separate property owner, Dennis Mann, who did not sign to have the property brought in, because that piece of the property was not listed that way at the time, Cook explained.
“That consisted to be part of the mayor’s front yard actually,” said Cook. In such cases, when part of a parcel of property is inside the city limits and the another part of the same parcel is not, the entire parcel is included in the city limits, Cook further explained.
“The mayor’s house was inside (the city limits). Part of the front yard was not,” Cook said.
Instead of cutting out part of parcel and excluding it from the rest, the parcel of Batchelor’s property left, out, or a section of her front yard, is being included along with the remainder of the parcel, according to Cook.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.