Alabama Supreme Court again rules for Gurley in long-running quarry dispute with M&N Materials

Gurley quarry lawsuitA permit sign attached to trees in foreground with Gurley Mountain rising in the background marks the proposed site for the long-disputed quarry shown here in February 2011. (Huntsville Times file photo)

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — The Alabama Supreme Court has reaffirmed its December ruling in favor of the Town of Gurley in its long-running legal battle with MN Materials over the proposed development of a rock quarry.

The Supreme Court’s December ruling reversed a Madison County jury award of $5 million to MN in 2011.

MN had convinced jurors that the steps the town had taken to block the quarry’s development was a regulatory “taking” and they were entitled to damages for lost income.  The jury found for MN Materials won a $2.75 million verdict,
plus 6 percent interest. The interest owed was just over $1 million, according to
court records. The company is owned by developers Brian McCord and
Brian Nelson.

MN’s lawyers were also awarded fees of $1.1 million.

But the Supreme Court reversed that ruling in December. The court later agreed to grant oral arguments in the case after MN was joined by several powerful Alabama groups including Huntsville’s G.W. Jones Sons Consulting Engineers, the Jones-Lowe Company and Raymond G. Jones, in its petition to the Supreme Court in seeking a rehearing. That filing argued that the court’s decision would severely hamper economic development and should be reversed.

The court heard oral arguments from the two sides in May.

But in today’s decision the court again found that Alabama law does not support MN’s condemnation claims.

Following the 2011 jury verdict Gurley officials said they could not pay the judgment and began exploring the possibility of the town declaring bankruptcy. The court’s decision in December was hailed by town officials as a Christmas gift.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/09/alabama_supreme_court_again_ru.html

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle prefers cheaper Alabama engineering firm for second Wal-Mart traffic study

Tommy Battle Election NightView full sizeHuntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. (Bob Gathany | bgathany@al.com) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is asking the City Council to select Alabama-based Volkert Associates to perform a second traffic study on the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at Mason Plaza.

Battle said he told each of the five council members Friday afternoon that he would prefer to hire Volkert over VRPA Technologies of California, the engineering firm recommended by the Midtown Huntsville Association.

At its meeting Thursday night, the council passed a resolution sponsored by Councilman Bill Kling expressing its intent to use VRPA for the traffic study.

But Battle said Volkert can do the study faster and for less money than VRPA, which is not currently licensed to do business in Alabama.

Volkert is proposing to charge Huntsville “a little over $7,000″ compared to VRPA’s estimate of between $40,000 and $50,000, said Battle. The VRPA study would also not be finished before the city is legally required to issue Wal-Mart a building permit for the new Supercenter, he said.

“There’s no sense spending $40,000 on a study that would come in after the fact,” said Battle. “It would very much be a hollow gesture.”

Midtown Huntsville Association members requested the city hire VRPA for the second Wal-Mart traffic study because it has no Alabama ties. The association, largely comprised of residents of the Piedmont neighborhood behind Mason Plaza, is skeptical of an earlier Wal-Mart-financed study by Skipper Consulting of Birmingham that concluded a new Supercenter would not overload Memorial Parkway.

Mason Plaza is on the east side of the Parkway between Drake Avenue and Airport Road.

Proposed Huntsville Walmart.jpgView full sizeAn architect’s rendering of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at Mason Plaza south of downtown Huntsville. (Courtesy Wal-Mart)

Midtown Huntsville Association member Tom Thrailkill said his group prefers VRPA because it is not part of the “usual process” of engineering firms hired by large retailers to perform traffic studies that are generally approved by the Alabama Department of Transportation and city officials.

“I’m not saying anybody is doing anything unethical,” Thrailkill said Friday. “We were just trying to bring some independence to this process. The bottom line is that the city wants (Wal-Mart) to happen; they don’t want to buck the process.”

During a community meeting on Sept. 18, Battle told Midtown members that the city would pay for an independent traffic study. He said Friday he believes Volkert Associates would deliver “a fair and impartial” report.

“If the neighborhood feels like there needs to be a second study to check facts, we’re fine with doing that,” said Battle. “But we need to do it in a cost-effective way.”

Battle said he asked council members to let him know Monday if they support his recommendation to hire Volkert. If a majority of the council agrees, the city could sign a contract with Volkert next week.

Kling, who represents the Piedmont neighborhood, said he plans to talk to Midtown Huntsville Association members over the weekend to gauge their feelings about hiring Volkert. A University of Alabama in Huntsville professor who is a licensed engineer is another possibility for the study, he said.

“What we’re all looking for is something that the neighborhood will buy into,” said Kling.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/09/huntsville_mayor_tommy_battle_64.html

New Madison Dunkin’ Donuts begins interviews for 70 jobs Oct. 17

MADISON, Alabama – Dunkin’ Donuts
is nearing its opening of a new store on U.S. 72 and will begin interviewing
for jobs Oct. 17.

Dunkin' Donuts buildingDunkin’
Donuts will soon open its second store in the Huntsville-Madison area
to join this one that opened at North Memorial Parkway and Country Club
Road last fall. (File photo by Paul Huggins/phuggins@al.com)

The interviews will be from 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. at Madison City Hall, 100 Hughes Road. The store seeks to hire 55
crew positions along with 15 baker positions.

This will be the second Dunkin’
Donuts to open in North Alabama since last year. It opened one on North
Memorial Parkway in November
. The new Dunkin’ Donuts on U.S. 72 is between the Target
and Madison Hospital.

Local franchise owner, Blake Robinson, has said he plans to open two more Dunkin’s Donuts in the area.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/09/new_madison_dunkin_donuts_begi.html

Chief of Naval Operations: Sequestration will not affect Austal’s existing LCS and JHSV contracts


austal2-22.JPG

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle (L) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert, discuss sequestration and how it will affect Austal’s Mobile shipyard, Feb. 22, 2013 in Mobile, Ala. (al.com/ Ellen Mitchell)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — Sequestration cuts will not affect Austal USA’s 10-ship, $1.6 billion joint high-speed vessel contract with the U.S. Navy, nor will it affect its contract to build five 127-meter littoral combat ships, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert.

During a tour of the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile today, Greenert said sequestration cuts will not affect projects that are already under contract, including Austal’s JHSV and LCS Navy deals.

“Sequestration will impact every single program; it requires a cut in every budget line,” Greenert said. “However, all those ships here that are under contract will not be affected, but we’ll have to move some money within the program line.”

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said Austal is optimistic that it’s providing a low cost
solution to the Navy, and does not expect any job cuts from
sequestration in regards to Austal’s existing Navy contracts.

“All
of our focus right now is delivering a great quality product to our
customer and that’s what we can control,” he said. “We’re confident,
based on the feedback that we’re getting from our customer, that we’re
stable on the contracts we have going forward.”

Standing alongside Perciavalle, Greenert addressed sequestration concerns, recent LCS criticisms and the future of the Navy’s partnership with Austal.

In a Bloomberg article released this week, critics inside the Navy referred to the LCS as the “Little Crappy Ship.” The article also discussed the debate over how vulnerable the LCS may be to attack, and cited numerous problems with the newly built vessels, including a six-inch crack in the hull of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s USS Freedom that had to be repaired, and “aggressive” corrosion in the propulsion area of Austal’s USS Independence.

Greenert said despite the LCS coming under fire recently for its design and cost, he’s looking forward to the Navy’s use of the ship.

“The Freedom and the Independence have proven their worth for the design of the ship,” he said. “Some folks felt that the ship should be used for missions or for capabilities which it frankly will not do. Some folks will put it in a situation and say ‘it’s not made for this, it won’t do well in this.’ I would acknowledge that.”

Greenert went on to say that the Navy has intentions to operate the ship in conjunction with other, larger ships, so he’s very optimistic that the ship will do well.

Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland and Austal Ltd., based in Henderson, Australia, build two separate versions of the LCS. The dual sets of ships were meant to get them built faster, at a rate of four a year rather than two a year.

Lockheed makes a steel-bodied version in partnership with Marinette Marine Corp., at Marinette’s yard in Marinette, Wis., while Austal makes an aluminum version in partnership with Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. under a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract. The estimated price to build each LCS is $440 million.

The LCS is intended to perform missions such as destroying mines, hunting submarines, interdicting drugs and providing humanitarian relief.

“As a customer, I’m here to check out the wares that we buy,” Greenert said of his shipyard tour. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve got a lot of capacity for future building.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/chief_of_naval_operations_sequ.html

Alabama State Port Authority: Shipping report for Feb 24


port.jpg

The MSC LAURA docks at APM Terminals Mobile, June 4, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Port Authority)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — The Alabama State Port Authority provides its weekly port activity report, including ship departures and arrivals for the next week.

Departure and arrival dates, vessel name, berth, destination and cargo are provided below. Look for the report here on al.com each Sunday.

Arrivals:

Feb. 23: OSTENDE MAX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 23: INTERLINK ACUITY; ASD PIER SOUTH D 1; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 24: STAR EAGLE; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; PANAMA CITY; GENERAL CARGO

Feb 24: AM CONTRECOEUR; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; SWINOUJSCIE, PL; BULK CARGO

Feb 24: MSC JORDAN; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: MSC BARCELONA; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: LIJUN C; ASD SOUTH B 2; KINGSTON, JM; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: BBC ROMANIA; ASD PIER 5; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: LETO; ASD MCDUFFIE; IMMINGHAM, GB; BULK CARGO

Feb. 25: SPIEGELGRACHT; ASD RIVER END C; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: BANDA SEA; ASD RAIL FERRY RAMP; COATZACOALCOS, MX; RAIL

Feb. 26: OCEAN BEAUTY; ASD NORTH A 2; NEW ORLEANS; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: STELLA BECRUX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; CONSTANTZA, RO; BULK CARGO

Feb. 26: THOR; ASD PINTO ISLAND; UNKNOWN, US; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: SEA-LAND EAGLE; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Feb. 26: MALTE B; ASD PIER 5; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: STAR EPSILON; ASD NORTH A 2; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: MARITIME SUZANNE; ASD LIQUID BULK TERMINAL ; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 27: LATMAR; ASD NORTH A 2; BROWNSVILLE-CAMERON COUNTY; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: ALBION BAY; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: CMA CGM NEW JERSEY; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/alabama_state_port_authority_s.html

Mobile business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


We've Moved (Blogs)



Read the latest Mobile business news at al.com/business/mobile, or read all our business news at al.com/business.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/mobile_business_news.html

Books-A-Million sees dollars in ducks, will sell "Duck Dynasty" merchandise


DuckCommander.jpg

The Duck Commander display that will be installed in Books-A-Million stores. (Special)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Things are just ducky at Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc.

The bookstore chain today announced that its stores will sell more than 40 items from Duck Commander, the line of goods associated with the popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”

Camo store displays will be stocked with DVDs, books, t-shirts, hats, key chains and other novelties. The displays also will include duck calls, the product that made the extended Robertson family wealthy and ultimately got them on television.

The show, which is AE’s highest-rated program, follows the antics of the unconventional Louisiana family and its business. The show’s popularity led to the extended Duck Commander product line. On the Duck Commander website duck calls range in price from $24.95 to $179.95.

Jeff Skipper, Books-A-Million vice president of marketing, said the push to sell Duck Commander merchandise is in response to explosive demand.

“We saw a tremendous amount of interest in all things “Duck” during the holiday selling season,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our team made the decision to create a custom, in-store display so that we could give our customers a one-stop-shop for all their favorite Duck Commander gear.”

The displays will be installed in all Books-A-Million stores before the television show begins its third season on Wednesday, the company said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/books-a-million_sees_dollars_i.html

Friday recap: The week’s Alabama business news in review

Alabama business news you may have missed this week:

J.D. Power and Associates releases its 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Best Buy to extend its price matching guarantee to major online competitors.

Communications experts dissect Carnival Cruise Lines’ response to the Triumph debacle.

Vulcan Materials begins blasting on Gurley Mountain.

A Montgomery auto dealer is named vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The Department of Defense considers an alternative to sequestration that would reduce civilian employees’ pay and hours by 20 percent.

HealthSouth saw a 6.7 percent increase in full-year revenue in 2012, generating $2.16 billion in business over the 12-month period.

Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex eagerly awaits the addition of new tenant Airbus.

Work begins on the new Birmingham School of Law.

Investors with Audley Capital Advisors accuse Walter Energy’s leaders of having mismanaged the company.

International Shipholding is preparing a $25 million stock offering.

Lesley McClure, regional executive at the Atlanta Fed’s Birmingham Branch, sees strength in the state’s auto industry.

Alabama’s brewing industry has doubled in size each of the last three years, a new report shows.

AirWalk, a new extreme trampoline arena in metro Birmingham, draws thousands.

Office Depot is set to acquire OfficeMax, a move that may accelerate the closing or selling of stores. The retailers have a combined 32 stores in Alabama.

Alabama’s second annual sales tax holiday for severe weather gear kicks off Friday.

Walmart plans to hire 175 people for two of its Neighborhood Markets opening in Decatur and Florence.

How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Huntsville is celebrating National Engineers Week.

The Mobile Boat Show kicks off Friday as optimism is again running high in the marine manufacturing industry.

Alabama’s economy supports slightly fewer jobs than it did at the start of 2000. But non-manufacturing jobs have increased.

BAE Systems Ship Repair in Mobile will avoid layoffs.

First Watch, a Bradenton, Fla.-based restaurant chain, is headed for Birmingham.

Winn-Dixie is moving into a space in Inverness Corners vacated by Bruno’s market.

There was a leadership shuffle at Mobile’s White-Spunner Construction Inc.

Express Oil Change Service Center, a Birmingham-based company with operations in 12 states, acquires Tire Engineers.

Ignite Fitness, a Crossfit affiliate, is expanding in Vestavia Hills.

Cahaba Brewing and Hop City unite to make beer backing home brewing law.

Mercedes plant gets a new boss, but it’s a familiar face.

Knology buyer Wow! investing and rebranding in North Alabama.

Divided Birmingham Water Works Board approves $145 million bond deal.

Airbus plant, along with expanding training and infrastructure programs, cited as progress for Accelerate Alabama.

Regions CEO Hall to assume chairmanship in May.


money.jpg



     

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/friday_recap_the_weeks_alabama_1.html

Birmingham business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


We've Moved (Blogs)



 To get the latest Birmingham-area business news, please visit al.com/business/birmingham. For more business news, visit al.com/business.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, you can find the new feed here.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/birmingham_business_news_has_m.html

Huntsville likely to issue building permit for Mason Plaza Wal-Mart before $40,000 traffic study is finished

Proposed Huntsville Walmart.jpgView full sizeAn architect’s rendering of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at Mason Plaza south of downtown Huntsville. (Courtesy Wal-Mart) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – The City of Huntsville expects to spend between $40,000 and $50,000 on a second traffic study requested by people living near the proposed Mason Plaza Wal-Mart.

But Mayor Tommy Battle said Thursday night that the study likely won’t be completed in time to have any bearing on whether the city issues Wal-Mart a building permit for the 150,000-square-foot Supercenter.

“If they come for a city permit, they are allowed to get a permit per our laws and regulations,” Battle said during a City Council meeting.

Last week, Battle agreed to pay for an independent study examining what a large Wal-Mart at Mason Plaza would mean for traffic on Memorial Parkway between Drake Avenue and Airport Road, as well as LN Drive.

The Midtown Huntsville Association objected to the city’s initial choice of an engineering firm, saying Volkert Associates is too closely connected to Skipper Consulting. Skipper performed a Wal-Mart-funded traffic study that said a Supercenter at Mason Plaza would not overload the Parkway.

Midtown members want the second study done by a company with no Alabama ties and have recommended California-based VRPA Technologies.

At Thursday’s meeting, the council passed a resolution sponsored by Councilman Bill Kling expressing the city’s intent to hire VRPA “at a point in the near future.”

Huntsville Director of Urban Development Shane Davis said Wal-Mart is willing to delay its building permit by two weeks so the second traffic study can be done.

Huntsville Urban Development Director Shane Davis.jpgShane Davis. (File photo)

But VRPA cannot do the study that quickly, said Davis, because it is not licensed to do business in Alabama. Getting the necessary approvals from the state Department of Revenue and other agencies will take three to four weeks, he said. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart wants to keep the new Supercenter on track for an October 2014 opening.

“They’re trying to work with us,” said Davis, “but they’ve also got deadlines to meet.”

“I suspect Wal-Mart will have a (building) permit before we’re able to get the study back.”

The city suggested several Alabama-licensed engineering firms that could do the traffic study faster, but Davis said the Midtown Huntsville Association wants to stick with VRPA. The association is comprised largely of residents of the Piedmont neighborhood behind Mason Plaza.

Alan Simonis, a Midtown member, said at Thursday’s council meeting that VRPA’s lack of Alabama ties is what makes it the best option.

“We feel like it’s the right thing to do to have an impartial study,” said Simonis, “and for our neighborhood and business friends to see it as being impartial.”

Battle said that once Wal-Mart is issued a building permit, the city cannot revoke the permit even if VRPA’s traffic study comes to a different conclusion than the Skipper Consulting report.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/09/huntsville_likely_to_issue_bui.html