By Jonathan Hardison
MCCALLA, AL (WBRC) - The McCalla community is trying everything it can to fight back against the railroad. That's how some homeowners in McCalla are describing their efforts to make McCalla its own city.
The group "Incorporate McCalla" is concerned about a proposed new railroad hub coming to their area but they say right now they're powerless to stop it.
Neighbors in McCalla have been voicing their concerns about a proposed railroad hub to be built since the Norfolk Southern Railroad company announced plans last year. But the prospect of hundreds of new jobs at the site swayed several county commissioners to support the project over neighbors' objections. That's when "Incorporate McCalla" decided to step in.
"Everybody deserves a right to decide what happens in their community," said Wade Cox, one of the incorporation drive's organizers. "People in McCalla don't have that right because we don't have a local government. So anyone can make decisions about what happens here, and then we're stuck holding the bag."
Cox and his friends have gathered more than 700 signatures and are pushing for more on a petition to incorporate about 3300 acres into a city in what he says would be the first incorporation in the Bessemer cutoff in 50 years.
"What we're trying to do is allow the ability for us to have a municipal government that we can hold accountable and also allows us to have a voice at the table when these decisions are being made that has McCalla at heart," Cox said.
Cox says his group can form the new city without raising taxes on the homeowners who would be part of the new McCalla. He says the franchise fees from utlities and the cable system would pay for the city's own police force and road crews.
So would residents welcome a change of power?
"Yeah, I think we should fight it," said McCalla resident Michael Glaze. "I mean we got the new Colonial Promenade here and it's already causing a lot of traffic down here, it's just a little town over here."
But Cox admits even a new government might be powerless to stop the project, but he hopes it could at least influence it.
"What we would like to be able to do if it winds up being here is to work with Norfolk Southern. There's no one in this community today that can work with Norfolk Southern because there's not a community."
The petition's organizers must have the signatures of at least 60% of the landowners in the proposed new city. If a judge certifies their petition, the citizens in the new McCalla would get to vote on whether they want to move forward or stay as they are now.
The "Incorporate McCalla" group will be holding an informational session at McAdory elementary school tomorrow night at 6:30 for anyone who has more questions about this push.