Opinions on a proposal to pull Ward 4 out of Anniston and plug it into Oxford have been mixed, but some Golden Springs business owners reacted to the news with shrugs instead of shrieks Friday.
“It won’t really make a difference for us,” said Stacey Hardy, owner of Rosie’s Gourmet to Go. “We’re already drawing people from Anniston and Oxford and Jacksonville.”
Hardy’s store is one of a handful at the Golden Springs Shopping Center on Henry Road, an Anniston address within the large chunk of city land that some residents have asked lawmakers to deannex and then annex into Oxford in one act of the Legislature. Thousands of people live in that territory, which is also home to businesses like Rosie’s — along with industrial interests like New Flyer, BR Williams Trucking and various metalworking shops.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the city,” Hardy said, noting that Anniston city employees are frequent visitors to the shop, and City Council members sometimes make their way to the restaurant, too. “I just don’t think it will affect us.”
The plan was proposed by a group of Ward 4 residents who incorporated last week as Forward 4 All, before submitting a draft bill to Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, asking the Legislature to excise Ward 4 and transplant it in Oxford without the approval of either city. That group includes among its members attorney Charles Turner, who drafted the bill, and Glen Ray, the president of Anniston’s chapter of the NAACP, who serves on its board of directors.
According to Turner, the motivation for the move is tied to property values on Anniston houses. Turner told a reporter Wednesday that he believed his home’s resale value had been hurt by the city’s politics and school system, a problem an Oxford address might fix.
Business owners at the shopping center said that same address change wouldn’t make a difference for them.
“I lease my space, so even resale value isn’t a big deal,” said Sandy Stewart, owner of Life’s Styles Neighborhood Salon. “I haven’t really given it much thought.”
Abbey Oliver, owner of Grow Pediatric Therapy, said her business — which provides speech and motor control therapy for children — has only been open about four weeks. She said she had heard of the city-swapping plan, but didn’t have an opinion on it either way, or expect problems for Grow.
Pharmacist Kai Martin, who works at the Martin’s Pharmacy, said that he had been following the annexation story for the last few days, but he didn’t expect much to change for the store. Other Martin’s Pharmacies are already located in Oxford and downtown Anniston, he noted, so a switch to Oxford at his location would be nothing new.
Martin’s father, Chris, owns the stores, and was working at the Oxford location Friday. While speaking with a reporter, Martin gave his father a call to ask if he had an opinion to share about the annexation.
After he hung up the phone, Martin said, “He hasn’t really been following it.”