Valley City Council unanimously approves shopping center development

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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VALLEY — There’s a chance a new shopping center will be going up off Fob James Drive.

In a unanimous vote on Monday, the Valley City Council authorized Mayor Leonard Riley to execute an agreement with Willow Properties LLC to purchase a 12.259-acre site on the north side of Fob James Drive. Willow has offered to purchase the site for development on the condition enough businesses commit to the store spaces that would be built in the new shopping center. If they can get future tenants under contract, Willow has offered to purchase the land from the city for $563,665.

The site is on the left side of the road heading east toward city hall. It’s between Valley Collision and the future site of Burney Road, which is now under construction.

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During its Feb. 27 meeting, the council approved an incentive for another development company to have a $13 million expansion at the Village Square Shopping Center. Plans are to add three, and perhaps four, new stores onto the south end of the shopping center in the area behind South State Bank. Village Square LLC/Valley Outlot LLC is attempting to do that.

In other action on Monday, a public hearing has been set for Monday, March 27 to discuss the rezoning of the property where a new ammunition plant will be built. The site is on the Burney property and faces 55th Street. Several hundred people will be employed by 1776 Ammo when the Florida-based plant goes into production.

The council approved a resolution awarding a paving contract for 55th Street. Chris Clark Grading & Paving will be adding a new wearing surface for $138,495.

Also approved was a four-item consent agenda. This includes approval of the public consumption of alcohol at two upcoming events, a reunion at River View School on Saturday, April 8th and a Lanett High class reunion at Lakeview Cabin on April 15th.

The other items approved on the consent agenda included the annual Title VI program barring discrimination and the awarding of the annual grass cutting bid. Precision Outdoors had the low bid to cut the grass on the city cemeteries. It will be doing this for $909.50. S&S Lawn Care has been awarded the bid to cut the grass at the city hall complex and at three city parks. It will be doing it for $535.

A proclamation was approved recognizing March 5-11, 2023, as Arbor Week in Valley. The proclamation calls on all city residents to join in the celebration of Arbor Week by joining the city in its efforts to protect trees and the city’s woodland areas and to plant trees.

Public Works Director Patrick Bolt told the council that the Valley Tree Board had one its most successful tree giveaways this past Saturday at city hall.

 “We had a great turnout,” he said. “It started at 8 a.m., and some people got there as early as six o’clock. By the time we got started, the line went almost all the way around the front of city hall. We gave away 400 trees in less than 30 minutes.”

Bolt said that the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will be doing some work on the bridge over I-85 at Exit 79. Bids will be let on the project in August, and the work could take place before the end of the year. This may require periods of one-lane traffic over the bridge and perhaps detours around it. This will not be known for sure until the bids are awarded. It could be next year before any of the work is done. Road work is always weather dependent. 

A work project on Highway 29 on Valley’s south side is making slow progress. This work could see a major change in Johnson Curve. The north-bound lane will be raised approximately 28 inches to bank the road similar to a race track. This is designed to keep cars from running off the road and into Moore’s Creek, something that has happened too many times over the years.

Bolt told the council his department is nearing completion of some work it has been doing along Cleveland Road. A little-used portion of 24th Avenue that branches off Cleveland has been closed and a new ditch cut along Cleveland to better direct water runoffs during heavy storms. It was a much less expensive option for the city to do this than to keep this portion of 24th open. Road closure signs are up in the area.

Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount told the council that Clean Up Valley Week would be taking place between April 10-15. The city’s Public Works Department will be running trucks behind C&C Sanitation in picking up limbs and yard trimmings that are left by the roadside. On Saturday, April 15 the shredder truck will be at the Farmers’ Market Pavilion so people can have their unwanted documents shredded. There’s also going to be an indoor yard sale at Valley Community Center that day.

Blount said she was most pleased to report that the registration for spring sports was back to pre-Covid levels for the first time. 

“We have gotten a lot of signups, especially in track and soccer,” she said.

Riley congratulated the Valley High Rams on having completed an undefeated season and winning the 5A state championship in boys basketball earlier this month in Birmingham. 

“Going 33-0 and winning a state championship is great,” he said. “I made it to Birmingham to see the semifinal win over Scottsboro and really enjoyed it. I couldn’t get back Saturday for the championship because of a trip I had planned months in advance. I am so pleased for what this team did for our city this year.”

Riley led a standing ovation for what the 2022-23 Runnin’ Rams did in winning that elusive state title. It was the first for a Valley High team since the 1970 football team won a state championship.