Photo by Jon Anderson
Old Berry High School Nov 2015 (3)
The former Berry High School campus on Columbiana Road now is home to the Hoover school system's Crossroads alternative school and offices for some central office personnel.
The Hoover City Council tonight voted to de-annex 38.5 acres once home to the former Berry High School on Columbiana Road.
With its 6-0 vote, the council has now cleared the way for the Vestavia Board of Education to purchase the property from the Hoover Board of Education for $11 million. The Hoover school board on April 18 voted to accept the offer.
The Vestavia school board’s purchase of the property was contingent on tonight’s vote because it could not legally operate a school outside of its city limits. Now, the property must be annexed into the City of Vestavia Hills.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to work closely with our colleagues in Hoover as we work to meet the educational needs of our students,” Vestavia Hills Superintendent Dr. Sheila Phillips said in a statement. “We once again would like to express our appreciation to Hoover City Schools and the Hoover Board of Education for working with us in this endeavor. We will continue moving forward carefully and methodically with the City of Vestavia Hills and our stakeholders as we seek to close the purchase of the Berry campus."
Prior to the vote, Hoover resident Dan Fulton asked the council to reconsider the annexation. His worry, Fulton expressed to the council, is that if the Vestavia school board at some point decides it no longer wants the property, the city of Hoover will have lost its rights to it.
“The Old Berry property is very important to Hoover residents,” Fulton said. “It has a historical importance.”
In responding to Fulton’s suggestion that the city buy the property and develop it into a luxury resort hotel, church campus or for some other use, the council explained that if it spent the $11 million needed to purchase it from the Hoover school board, it would deplete its reserves by a third.
The city had previously considered purchasing the property in April 2015 for $9 million with plans to develop it into a sports complex, Council President Jack Wright told the Hoover Sun in a previous interview. At the time, Superintendent Kathy Murphy wanted to first consider all potential educational uses of the property first. The City Council rescinded its offer in November after it identified a better site for the sports complex, Wright said.
In speaking about the sale, Wright said if the Hoover school board can put $11 million in the bank and that’s the board’s desire, the council will honor their desire.
See more about the school board’s 3-2 split vote to sell the former Berry High campus here. For more on the city council’s take on the sale, click here.
In other business Monday night, the Hoover City Council also:
- Authorized $4,000 in advance travels expenses for Capt. Harry Long’s upcoming trip to train the at FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Long will train at the facility beginning in July and will graduate in September.
- Approved the adoption of the 2014 Jefferson County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan is necessary should the city ever need to receive FEMA disaster relief funds.
- Continued until its next meeting an ordinance to amend its Municipal Code, Chapter 8, dealing with Licenses and Business Regulations by adding wording that would make it illegal to sell goods or services at private residences in Hoover without either an invitation from the resident or a $100 “solicitation and peddling” permit from the city. The planned action is said to be designed to protect residents from unwanted intrusion by door-to-door peddlers and criminals seeking to get into people’s home under the guise of selling something. Read more about the peddling and solicitation ordinance here.
- Set a public hearing for June 6, 2016 at 6 p.m. to consider developer Jonathan Belcher of Blackridge Partners' request to rezone approximately 1,519 acres east of South Shades Crest Road and north of the Cahaba River for a planned unit development to be known as Blackridge. The property, owned by Blackridge Partners and Riverwoods Holdings would be built to contain a private gated community housing some 1,150 homes. The Planning and Zoning Commission on May 9 voted in favor of the plan. For more on the planned development, click here.