By Crystal McGough
CLAY — Clay city councilors Dennis Locke and Ben Thackerson both submitted their resignations to the Clay City Council Tuesday night, May 25, 2021, due to selling their homes and moving out of the city of Clay.
Locke has served on the council since 2016 and Thackerson has served on the council since 2012, but both were involved with serving the city of Clay for many years prior to sitting on the council.
“I’ve been sort of dreading this, but as some of you have heard, my wife and I, in an effort to downsize, have sold our home here in Clay,” Locke said. “The house sold much quicker than we ever imagined possible. … Unfortunately, we could not find a way to stay in this wonderful community and, regretfully, that means I must resign my position here on the council.
“I am honored to have been able to serve with such an amazing, Godly group, and I am proud of everything that we have been able to accomplish together. You’ll never know or understand just how difficult this decision has been, especially because of the love we have for this city, the deep respect I have for you guys and the close friendships that have been formed over the 12+ years that I’ve been engaging with this great group in various capacities. I will certainly miss each of you.”
Locke said that he will continue to be involved in and around the city, including attending various events, staying involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs and outreach activities with his church, Faith Community Fellowship.
“I can say it’s been a pleasure serving with you,” Mayor Charles Webster said. “I couldn’t ask for anyone else to work with for the city’s behalf. Your heart is in the city and you’ve shown that with what you’ve accomplished and helped to accomplish here. It’s been a plus for the city to have you serve.”
Thackerson was not able to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but sent his letter of resignation, which was read by Webster.
“This is to advise that Denise and I have sold our house in Clay and I will vacate my position on the City Council,” said Thackerson in his letter. “I appreciate the citizens of Clay for allowing me to serve them as a member of the Park Board from 2005-2008, Chairman of the Park Board/Committee from 2008-2012 and as City Councilor from 2012 until the present. I have been fortunate to be a part of many City improvements during my service such as the ball park, Cosby Lake, disc golf course and the Library to name just a few. I have enjoyed serving with you and all the Councilors with which I have served. I would like to thank the City manager for his support and to thank the city employees for their dedicated work.”
Webster said that he has served alongside Thackerson in various capacities since the city of Clay was incorporated in the year 2000.
“A good friend, been knowing Ben a long time,” Webster said. “I sure hate to lose him and you (Locke), especially at the same time. But I think we’ve got some good candidates looking at coming on to take those places and I think we’ll be in good hands.”
Webster will have 60 days to appoint new members to fill both council positions.
The city council voted unanimously during the meeting to deny the approval of a de-annexation ordinance, following a public hearing where the property owner spoke to the council about her reasons for wishing to de-annex from the city of Clay.
Ordinance 2021-02 was an ordinance concerning the de-annexation of 6825 Candlewood Lane. City Manager Ronnie Dixon said that de-annexation of residential property almost never happens and that the Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denying the de-annexation.
“I know de-annexation isn’t something you do every day, but if there was a perfect candidate for it, that would be our address,” Jamie Burchfield said during the hearing. “Most of our property touches Trussville, not Clay. Only one side touches Clay. … As a property owner, you want to be part of a city that cares about you. At the Planning & Zoning, they basically said it didn’t matter who lived at that roof; they just wanted the roof in the city. I believe it does matter who lives at that roof. I want to be part of a community that y’all care about. Our neighbors came and spoke on our behalf to de-annex and they were OK with it.”
Dixon said that in the case of the ordinance failing, Burchfield could come back to Planning & Zoning to try again in a year.
“We don’t want to see you leave Clay,” Councilor Dean Kirkner said prior to making a motion for the council to not approve Ordinance 2021-02. Councilor Becky Johnson seconded the motion and the ordinance was voted down unanimously.
“We do feel for your situation, especially with the school and not having a school bus up there,” Johnson said. “I do feel for you because I had kids in school here, too, in Clay, so we do know how hard that can be.”
Webster added that police and fire department response times were also taken into consideration by P&Z while considering the de-annexation.
“For the city of Clay, we have the least crime of any city around us and we have the best response time of any city around us,” he said. “I can assure you that the response time for police and fire is probably the best around.”
The council unanimously approved the following:
Proclamation 2021-02, recognizing Dr. P. Ronald Wilder on the occasion of his Pastor’s Appreciation Celebration
Resolution 2021-09, declaring weeds to be a public nuisance at 7535 Old Springville Road
Resolution 2021-10, declaring personal property to be a public nuisance at 5300 Baggett Drive
The council also voted to change its June meeting dates to June 15 and June 29, 2021.
The next meeting of the Clay City Council will be Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at Clay City Hall, beginning at 6 p.m.