To McCalla's chagrin, Bessemer wants land along Eastern Valley

By Emily Luxen

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - A land dispute is brewing between a community and a city in west Jefferson County. Bessemer city councilors voted to annex more than 350 acres of undeveloped land in McCalla, but McCalla residents don't like the idea.

McCalla residents said this was done behind their backs, and they didn't get a chance to voice their concerns to the city council.  Bessemer city councilors said they are just trying to bring jobs and revenue to the city, and they feel the vote will ultimately benefit the entire area.

More than 350 acres along Eastern Valley Road in McCalla will not only become part of Bessemer, but will be the site of new warehouses and eventually, a controversial Norfolk Southern Rail Hub.  

McCalla resident Jeremy Wright has been working with a group called McCalla Matters that hopes to incorporate part of that area. He said by incorporating, McCalla residents will have more control over what goes on in their area. He said Bessemer's vote not only puts a kink in their plans, but is not the best thing for the city.

"The bottom line is this site will bring some jobs, but this site doesn't have to be located where it's located," said Wright, "I'm not against jobs, we just thinking there is a better place for those jobs."

Bessemer city councilor Louise Alexander disagreed, and said she supports the idea because those jobs will bring an economic boost to the city.

"We got 780 jobs to 1000 jobs coming in off this project alone," said Alexander. " We have unemployment rates in the area that are high, so this will give the unemployed the opportunity to have jobs."

Wright said McCalla Matters will continue to try to collect more signatures so they can proceed with plans to incorporate. He also said there is talk of McCalla residents boycotting Bessemer businesses to send a message that they aren't happy with the city's actions.

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