Baldwin County voters must decide whether or not to give nuisance regulation powers to the county commission
Next week, in addition to choosing who will represent them in Montgomery and Washington, D.C., voters in unincorporated areas of Baldwin County will decide whether to let the county commission regulate noise, pollution, litter and other nuisances. .
“It’s an example of, for us to get better, as we grow,” now-retired county commissioner Joe Davis said June 21 when the Baldwin County commission voted to authorize the November 8 referendum. “It’s about us looking at ‘my rights end where yours begin’, being good neighbors and growing in a way that will allow us all to enjoy paradise.”
The Alabama state legislature does not allow self-government, so county governments cannot act as a legislative body. But in 2005, the legislature passed the Limited Home Rule Act, which gives counties the power to enact nuisance bylaws, if county voters agree. Since then, about 20 counties across the state have implemented it, including Mobile, Escambia, Madison, and Shelby counties.
This summer, the Baldwin County Commission voted unanimously to ask the probate court judge to set up a referendum election to implement the law. Only voters in unincorporated areas of the county will be asked to vote, as municipalities already have the power to implement their own laws.
The legislation was created by the Alabama Association of County Commissions (ACCA). By law, unsanitary sewage, noise, waste, pollution, weeds, animals, and dumps can be regulated by county commissions if citizens consent. Without the law, counties have no power to regulate these nuisances, just the state legislature.