FOLEY – Foley and county officials will be working over the next six months to develop an agreement to plan for the growth of subdivisions outside the city’s corporate limits.

The Foley City Council voted Wednesday, July 5 to approve an agreement with the Baldwin County Commission to continue the current extraterritorial jurisdiction for six months. Under an act passed by the Alabama Legislature, cities and counties had to reach an agreement on jurisdictions in July or authority now exercised by municipalities would go to counties.

The Baldwin County Commission also voted Wednesday to approve the agreement with Foley.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the agreement keeps in place the current authority that allows Foley to approve subdivision plans in an area 1.5 miles beyond its city limits. The county, however, approves building permits in that area.

“We are still having discussions over the best route to go,” Hellmich said. “Currently we do not do building permits. We do subdivisions.”

The mayor said that while many cities in Baldwin County have zoning regulations in place outside their corporate limits, most of the unincorporated areas outside Foley do not have county zoning.

Council President Wayne Trawick said the subdivisions in unzoned areas may not meet city standards. That could be an issue if residents want to be annexed later.

“They think the city’s reaching outside but it’s not,” Trawick said. “It’s about growth. At some point, they’re going to want to come and take advantage of what the city has to offer. We’ve started turning some stuff away instead of annexing it in because it wasn’t built to standards and it was going to cost us so much money to bring it up.

Hellmich said Foley officials are not trying to direct what happens outside the city. Many subdivisions built outside Foley, however, will become part of the city in the future and those areas must meet municipal standards for issues such as drainage.

“It’s not us telling people who are not our citizens what to do, but we’re trying to give direction about how that growth occurs,” Hellmich said. “Because in 10 years, you come up and ask the city ‘I want to be in the city,’ and we say no, because you’re not built right, then they’re going to be mad that way. “

Mike Thompson, city administrator, said the agreement will give the county and Foley time to work out a plan on extraterritorial jurisdiction, known as ETJ. He said other cities in Baldwin County are also working with the county on jurisdictional issues.

He said that if the agreement had not been approved by the city and county in July, the jurisdiction would have permanently gone to the county under the terms of the legislation.

“This six months gives us a window to analyze it further and to also see what happens over the next six months because we’re not the only city that’s trying to decide if we’re going to stay in the ETJ or not,” Thompson said. “So, we will see after six months which cities stay out in the ETJ and which choose not to and keep in mind that if we stop this we can no longer go back out there.”

Thompson said city officials will meet with county commissioners in upcoming months to discuss what is best for planning growth in unincorporated areas.

“This gives us six months to see whether or not we can get them to do some things we’d like to see them do out there as well,” Thompson said. “What we’re trying to do is give ourselves a little bit of a window to analyze some of these other things. There’s a lot of moving parts out there.”