City of Wetumpka In Legal Feud With Local Utility Companies
A legal battle is brewing between the city of Wetumpka and local utility companies. City officials want power poles and lines gone from downtown, but a dispute with local utility companies is standing in the way of their planned progress.
The city council’s vote to have them removed, was supposed to improve traffic flow for both vehicles and pedestrians and make side walks more handicap accessible. But, these plans came to a swift halt after the city says that Alabama Power, AT&T and Spectrum all refused to sign the utility agreement required by the Alabama Department of Transportation as part of the project.
The city says until utilities are relocated underground, and power poles removed, the city has had to put a hold on its Downtown and Riverfront Revitalization Plan, that could include new sidewalks and other improvements.
One local Business owner calls the power poles an eye sore, and says the dispute is unfortunate. “I don’t think it’s fair as a business owner that we have to wait, i feel like you know they should come to an agreement really quickly so that we can have the improvements of downtown Wetumpka” said Tabatha Powe.
One of the biggest factors in this dispute has been who will pay to have the utilities moved underground. Attorney General Steve Marshall did issue his opinion last Spring, saying that “a utility that provides power, cable, or telephone, service must generally pay to relocate underground or otherwise its poles, lines or systems that are in the right-of -way to meet a public need”.
This case will be heard in Elmore County Circuit Court next in February.