The new brick marquee, welcoming motorists to the “Home of the Bearcats,” stands as the entryway to the newest part of Weaver’s residential area.
“That’s exactly where the city starts, right on the line” said Gary Angel, president of Buckhorn subdivision, as he watched his crew drill in the new sign.
At least it is for now.
The signs are part of an aesthetic makeover Willis said he hopes to bring to Weaver during his tenure as mayor. But stretching out where Weaver’s welcome signs belong on a map could end up being the second-term mayor’s longest lasting legacy. As the city of fewer than 3,000 pushes for Sunday alcohol sales, businesses on the outside are trying to push their way into the city’s territory.
Along with a request earlier this month to allow the City Council to be able to vote for seven-day alcohol sales within city limits, Willis sent legislators in Montgomery requests from Heroes American Grille restaurant and Smokin’ Joes Tobacco and Beverage store — both located on Alabama 21 — to have their properties annexed by Weaver.
“It’s just about Sunday sales,” said Marc Spaulding, manager of Heroes, on why he wants his restaurant and bar to fall in city lines.
“It would actually be a disadvantage for us to annex without Sunday sales,” Spaulding said. “The taxes would be a little higher, but with Sunday sales, it’s a definite advantage.”
Typically, a municipal council is allowed to approve any annexation of property adjacent to city limits and not falling under any other municipality’s police or fire jurisdiction.
“The problem is, out there on 21, you get way over the city limits,” Willis said. “You have to go across the street to get to Heroes.”
Weaver already has annexed property on the highway that links Anniston to Jacksonville. The city annexed the Gold Post Pawn and Jewelry shop property during Willis’ first tenure as mayor in 2004. In the case of the pawn shop, Willis said business incentive wasn’t a factor for incorporating the property into Weaver’s limits, but the shop wanted to fall within Weaver’s police jurisdiction.
On a map, city lines often get confusing after years of annexations. It’s why the land surrounding Weaver High School, for example, is part of Weaver, even if it doesn’t actually connect to the rest of the city. Conversely, annexations that have been disputed over the years have left islands of unincorporated land surrounded by city property.
Major annexations though, are almost always about business. For Weaver, the benefit to annexation comes down to dollars and cents. Because Heroes and Smokin’ Joes both fall in Weaver’s police jurisdiction, Weaver splits the sales tax with the county. If they are in Weaver’s official city limits, the county doesn’t see any of the tax.
And if businesses thrive in Weaver, it opens up the possibility for other businesses to locate within the city limits — or have the city limits brought to them.
“As long as we’re not stepping on anyone else’s toes, there’s no reason why we can’t annex a property that wants to be in the city,” Willis said.
From the business end, Spaulding said annexation is a wait-and-see game right now. If the state says OK, Heroes will officially be part of Weaver.
“If the legislature says go, then Weaver will say go, and we’ll say go,” Spaulding said. “If the council passes it, we’ll be ready to sell alcohol the next Sunday.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.