By Lily McCormick
The University of Montevallo’s Environmental Club is turning its attention to the several developments encroaching Ebenezer Swamp.
Last week, the club hosted a teach-in at the Center for the Arts. The event focused on splitting into small groups while members of the club taught participants about the swamp.
Dr. Susan Caplow, an associate professor of environmental studies, encouraged the teach in attendees to continue their support for the swamp.
Caplow invited everyone to attend an Alabaster City Hall meeting the following Monday to discuss the newest proposed development in the swamp’s watershed.
While the group was aware of the planned residential community known as Walker Springs, there are now plans to move forward with a commercial development.
Jessica Snow is an Alabaster resident and an avid leader within the Friends of Ebenezer Swamp group. Following the meeting, she sent out a newsletter explaining the commercial development and its implications.
Her newsletter goes on to explain that “As proposed, this commercial development consists of 45 acres that will provide self-storage units, warehouse/office spaces and restaurants. This development proposes another road to be constructed and will be accessed via a redlight at Mission Hills Rd and Hwy 119.”
The city council opened the floor for comments either for or against the development. The first to speak was a spokesperson from the company in charge of the commercial development. The spokesperson from the Bruno Development Company reiterated their commitment to the city saying, “Our goal is to make this property something the city can be very proud of. First of all, our concept is to go along with the 119 Overlay project.”
He was the only person who spoke in favor of the development.
Afterward, the floor was opened for those against the plans. Several Alabaster residents took the opportunity to share their disdain including former University of Montevallo professor Dr. Mike Hardig.
Hardig’s remarks focused on the impervious surfaces the construction will create and their effects on the swamp.
The University of Delaware’s Agricultural website says, “impermeable/impervious surfaces are solid surfaces that don’t allow water to penetrate, forcing it to run off.”
Hardig went on to explain that an increase in the surface area of impermeable land will create excess runoff and flooding in the area.
“The possible solutions for this are less parking areas, fewer structures and use of pervious surface materials,” he said.
Several other Alabaster residents spoke about concerns, including current vacant commercial structures, traffic and the lack of need for the development.
While the Bruno development is still in its early stages compared to the already approved Walker Springs development, the Environmental Club is taking it seriously.
“I think what was really disappointing about the city council’s perspective is that I’m hoping they’ll work this us,” said Caplow.
She went onto explain that their overall goal is to stop the development from happening. But, if the development goes forward that it is done so with sustainability in mind.
“I see such an opportunity if they do want to develop in these spaces, to do it in a way that is new, different and sustainable,” Caplow said.
With the two developments at play, work has increased for those wanting to protect the swamp.
“Transitioning from one to two creates a lot more work for us as we are trying to address this from multiple angles by working with community members, trying to amend the plans to be more friendly to the swamp and asking the council member to speak with us,” Caplow said.
The club is encouraging those interested to attend the public hearing for the residential development on Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Alabaster Council Chambers. More information is available on their Instagram account.