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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Baldwin Pops Orchestra Performance

Fairhope, Alabama


Fairhope's October 2016 Art Walk

Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope art walk's "blind" photographer

This month's art walk featured a "blind" photographer among other unusual things.

Friday, October 14, 2016

City Finally Purchases Flood-prone House

Fairhope, Alabama

705 Cedar Avenue


According to building official Eric Cortinas, the city has finally purchased the home at 705 Cedar Avenue that has a history of being flooded during heavy rains, bringing to an end a multi-year effort (click) by owners Everette and Jackie Burnett and their family (unfortunately, Mr. Barnette passed away recently).

Constructed at the low point in the neighborhood back in the 1970s, water had actually entered the home several times over the years, the last being the April 2014 super-rainstorm.

Last June, the city council voted to accept a hazard mitigation grant of $225K from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency for the acquisition and demolition of the property: the city's required 25% matching share is about $62K of cash and in-kind work by city employees.

The post-disaster emergency management funds relating to the April 2014 rain even were under the control of Governor Bentley's office, which finally released them last May.

City public works employees will demolish the home and construct deed-restricted, open space swales there instead -- and the property maintained by the city. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Controversial South Side Apartment Project Approved

Fairhope, Alabama

CR3 at Old Battles Rd. site

Shortly after a much bigger one on the north side was denied last Monday, the city's planning commission approved a smaller apartment complex on the south side of town by a 4-2 vote.

duplex rendering
Phase one of Old Battles Place will consist of 110 duplex apartment units on land already zoned R-5 within the city limits at the northeast corner of Section Street (CR3) and Old Battles Road: the approval requested by HMR Engineering was voluntarily tabled from the September meeting to allow more time to address concerns raised then over traffic, landscaping and sewage utility service: all of those issues had been resolved according to planning director Smith.

The applicant also requested a waiver from the commission of the Low Impact Development storm water drainage requirements, because natural soil conditions do not permit its full implementation on this site.

Smith said that additional conventional drainage methods met the city's usual standard that post construction runoff from the site be be no more than pre-construction.

(The new LID standards were adopted by the city council about a year ago)


Wilson at left
As with the project on the north side, Mayor-elect Karin Wilson spoke in opposition because the minimum drainage requirements had not been met, 10 of 15 LID methods were not implemented; she also questioned how a proper traffic study could have been done since CR3 is closed for repairs.

Wilson: "The application is incomplete ... a minimum of 10 are required ... this is an unusual development ... need an independent study done ... if going to waive our requirements ... ."

Project engineer Scot Hutchinson replied that the traffic study was done using county data obtained well before the road was closed for repairs and it found that traffic volume was not sufficient to warrant improvements to the roads at this time: no turning lanes or 4 way stop at the intersection needed.

He also said a third party engineer (Tim Wally) did look at the drainage and concurred with the findings: minimum LID could not be implemented because of soil conditions at the site.

Wilson, backed by a room full of citizens, said they were all frustrated the "commission seems not to come up with solutions to protect citizens ... only shows flexibility when it comes to the developers."

Commission chairman Lee Turner explained how Alabama is "a property rights state" where laws often side with property owners: any decision the commission makes must be based on the applicable laws on the books and may be appealed to civil court.

Commissioner Boone made the motion for approval, seconded by Clark; Roberbs and Turner also voted aye, Robinson and MacKellar nay.

Wilson, Hutchinson, Wally (speaking)

site plan


Friday, October 7, 2016

Updated: City Competing Again in National Flower Contest

Fairhope, Alabama


Mayor Kant and horticulturist Jennifer Fidler are in Arroyo Grande California (Thursday) for the annual America in Bloom competition for various horticulture/environmental awards.

The city already picked up one for community floral display arrangements; Mayor Kant picked up one later for individual achievement: the 'John Holmes Community Champion' award.

Fairhope won several last year, including one for urban forestry.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Big New East Fairhope Development Approved

Fairhope, Alabama

The Verandas (north is up)


The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the application by well-known local developer/realtor Trae Corte for 'The Verandas',  a 214 lot 'Village Subdivision' at the SW corner of the intersection of  Hwy 104 and Lawrence Road in east Fairhope (east of the '3 Circle Church' and outside of city limits).

Hwy 104 east of 181
The development will be in phases on the 263 acres with 208 residential and six commercial lots at the west end along 104: areas are dedicated for green space, wetlands and "future development" as well.

Lot areas will vary in size with none under 8,500 square feet: typically a minimum 15,000 sq. ft/ lot is required for un-zoned county property like this -- but because this is a Village Subdivision the normal standards for density do not apply in this case, according to planning director Smith.

There are to be three entrances from Hwy 104 and two from Lawrence Road.

The location is slightly east of the "village node" indicated on the city's comprehensive growth plan map at the 104/181 intersection; but not significantly Smith said.

Corte requested two changes to the plan he had submitted:

1. The road across the wetland area would be deleted and replaced by a walking boardwalk instead and another access entrance to the eastern-most lots added from Hwy 104 (at lot #104).

2. If the state and the county do not allow sidewalks along Hwy 104 and Lawrence Roads (insufficient right-of-way), they will be constructed along the edge of the development itself instead.


Citizens who live nearby worried about infrastructure, drainage and traffic issues, and the "price point" of the homes to be sold there. Corte said drainage and traffic studies/plans would be completed as required -- and the price point would be on the "high end" from $300K to $700K:  to be completed in 5 or 6 phases over years.

Trae Corte
Fairhope resident Bobby Green insisted a proper tree survey be done to protect the many large heritage trees on the property (live oaks, mostly) according to the city's tree ordinance -- but was told by Smith the tree ordinance usually does not apply in cases like this outside city limits: superseded instead by tree/landscaping sections of the subdivision regulations (he was to check into it further to make sure).

Corte assured protection of the valuable oaks is a high priority, a reason he purchased the property.

Approval contingent upon an acceptable traffic study/plan, drainage and landscaping plan, appropriate buffers where commercial meets residential, sidewalks along Hwy 104 and Lawrence Road (or appropriate substitutes), and all other requirements of applicable subdivision/building regulations met.


Corte advised that he would not be able to meet the subdivision regulation's Low Impact Development (LID) drainage standards (10 of 15 listed methods implemented), because site soil conditions/topography would not permit it: A waiver would need to be granted as has been done in other cases.

He said he would also need a waiver for the 35' maximum building height standard.

(The property is not contiguous to city limits, so annexation is not possible at this time.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Conyers Wins Runoff Election For Final Council Spot

Fairhope, Alabama

Challenger Jimmy Conyers has defeated incumbent Diana Brewer in the runoff for city council place three.

Conyers received 1,791 votes (66%) to Brewer's 921 (34%).

The new government will be sworn in on November 7th.

Three incumbents were unseated during this election cycle; another did not seek re-election.

Conyers posted remarks to his Facebook page:

"Incredibly honored to be elected to Fairhope City Council! We had an incredible team of volunteers and supporters who worked tirelessly during the initial campaign and subsequent runoff. Hats off to Diana Brewer for keeping everything above board and for running an equally solid campaign. You were a formidable opponent and I appreciate your service. I know that you love Fairhope as much as I do, best wishes.
And thank you Fairhope, I look forward to serving you!!!"

Fairhope Council Runoff Election Underway

Fairhope, Alabama


campaigning red line
According to one of the candidates, about a thousand voters had cast ballots early this afternoon in the runoff election for council place three between incumbent Diana Brewer and Jimmy Conyers.

Turnout for runoff elections is traditionally much less than the general; Brewer barely got the most votes in that three way race on August 23rd, but not over 50%.

Both candidates were seen waving signs at city hall, at various distances from the red-line minimum legal distance from the polling entrance.

The race is considered a toss-up by most local political observers; the poll will be open until 7PM.

Diana Brewer

Jimmy Conyers at right