Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017

Fairhope, Alabama

Clouds obscured the sun over Mobile Bay today at 1:30 PM when the solar eclipse reached its maximum

library eclipse watchers

American Legion Beach eclipse watchers

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Greeno Road Medical Park Approved

Fairhope, Alabama

Twin Beech at Greeno medical building


Construction has begun on a new 36,000 square foot medical building on 6.6 acres at the corner of Greeno Road and Twin Beech Road (northwest side of the high school) -- the first of a three-unit complex approved by the city's Planning Commission last March (Multi-occupancy approval).

Outpatient orthopedics, urgent care, primary care, physical therapy, imaging and lab services will be among those provided there.

Some conditions for approval of the project were:

* An operations and maintenance plan shall be submitted.

* Minor revisions to the drainage plan shall be corrected.

* Applicant will work with the city horticulturist to satisfy landscaping requirements; city horticulturist's approval of site plan required prior to issuing land disturbance permit.

* At the time of final site plan approval, applicant shall have all conditions completed so the plan may be recorded within 60 days ... .


Under construction now
The site was purchased last November by 'Catalyst HRE' of Pensacola (click) for $1.4 million, according to public records; it is outside of city limits in the un-zoned county, but within the city's planning jurisdiction (city issues the building permits).

Baldwin County's building department is responsible for other aspects of the project.

Chad Henderson is the company's founder and CEO.

According to media reports: "These projects are a part of a trend where primary care and specialist facilities come under the umbrella of larger health care systems, according to B.G. Porter, CEO of the Studer Group health care consulting firm in Pensacola."

North is up

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New U.S. 98 Trail Bridge Design Approved

Fairhope, Alabama

Multi-use trail along U.S. 98


The city council approved an additional $44K (change order #1) to complete the multi-use path from Hwy 104 north to South Drive: questions arose about the original plan approved last Summer for an all-wooden bridge -- so a new design was developed using an aluminum span instead.

Aluminum bridge here
Originally, pilings were to be driven every eight feet across the creek, but it was decided that may present problematic long-term maintenance issues and potentially block the creek (log jams): underground utilities located in the area could have been damaged during construction as well.

Instead, a 70' X 8' prefabricated aluminum bridge will span the creek itself -- and a wooden boardwalks  installed on approaches north and south, all ADA compliant.

The bridge will have to be installed at a slight angle for the crane lifting it to clear the overhead power lines during installation.

It should take about two months to construct the bridge and bring it here, but construction of the boardwalk approaches should begin soon (8' wide, 92' and 52' long respectively).

Golf carts will be allowed on the trail, at last report.

Contractor 'Arrington Curb and Excavation' of Flomaton will be given extra time to complete the project.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Elderberry Festival Today At History Musuem

Fairhope, Alabama

A pie eating contest kicked off today's festivities, which included traditional music and talks about the many uses of the elderberry flower and plant.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Smaller Sewage Overflows Reported Last Week

Fairhope, Alabama

Valley Drive/Middle Street


According to public records, 78, 000 gallons of sewage overflowed from a manhole and lift station on Valley Drive last Friday (August 4th) during the six-inch rainstorm, into the Tatumville gully system: that area has been notorious for such problems even though some of the collection pipes were re-lined recently.

Others reported:

* Over 3,900 gallons overflowed from the lift station and manhole at 6335  Twin Beech Road into the Pole Cat Creek basin.

* Over 1,000 (less than 10,000) from a lift station on E. McGowin Drive into the Waterhole Branch  drainage basin.

* 6,000 gallons from a manhole at 50 Young Street into the Big Mouth gully system.

Also, the next day (Saturday, August 5th)  over 1,000 from a manhole and lift station on Meadowbrook Drive into a drainage ditch, due to equipment (controller) failure.


An engineering study commissioned by the mayor/city council earlier this year to identify sewage collection system problems and solutions has been completed, but its results have not yet been announced to the public.

Additional funding to continue addressing the issues is expected to be included in the next fiscal year's municipal budget (Oct 1st).

Excessive rain water penetrates through the ground and leaks into underground sewage collection pipes, overloading them causing overflows through manholes and lift stations.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Updated: More Greeno Road Commercial Rezoning Coming?

Fairhope, Alabama

Update: At its August 7th meeting, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the request to rezone the Green's property.


'Park Place PUD' on N. Greeno Road   


Even though new Planning Director Wayne Dyess recommended against it because it did not meet technical requirements of the city's comprehensive plan, the city's Planning Commission approved a new Planned Unit Development on currently-zoned residential property on north Greeno Road (roughly across from Volanta Park where the trailer park is now) for a mixture of residential and commercial uses (limited retail and offices space).

(PUD's allow for limited uses other than permitted by the current zoning.)

Proposed new PUD site 
The vote was 4- 1 with commissioner Peterson voting against: Conyers abstained.

Peterson thought the site across from the park is more suitable for high-density residential use.

A similar project one parcel over to the north, the 'Hayek PUD' (click), was approved by both the Planning Commission and former city council (by a 3-0 vote) last Summer; but Dyess said his interpretation of the city's current village model comprehensive growth plan is that there must be a similar contiguous use -- and since the two PUD's are separated by another residential parcel, he could not recommend approval of the new one.

(He also mentioned that construction of the 'Hayek PUD' has not yet begun. See the photo at bottom.)

The Planning Commission only makes recommendations in zoning matters: the city council will have the final say by a majority vote.

Councilmen Burrell and Boone voted for the Hayek PUD last year (along with former councilor Brewer);  and Burrell has frequently called Greeno "a commercial corridor."

Dyess frequency cites the importance of consistency and predictability in applying regulations (including the comprehensive plan) -- so all involved will know what to expect.


Greeno Road/Edwards Avenue rezoning denied


Also during last month's meeting, the Planning Commission recommended denying another request to rezone R-1 residential property to B-1 commercial local shopping district -- located  at the northwest intersection with Edwards Avenue.

 Edwards Ave. intersection
Dyess had recommended this one for approval for the same reason as before: it complies with regulations and the comprehensive plan because there is currently contiguous commercial property.

Some commissioners thought that a B-4 zoning would be more appropriate there, but Dyess' interpretation of the zoning ordinance is that banks are permitted only in the B-1 designation; but he conceded that in the past banks have been allowed in B-4: in his opinion that was done erroneously.

Neighboring citizens who commented on the request cited traffic concerns, noise and light pollution, and setting a precedent for more commercial rezoning along the west side of Greeno Rd. to the north.

The Planning Commission only makes recommendations, the city council could decide to approve rezoning at an upcoming meeting.


Green Nurseries property


On the commission's agenda for their August 7th meeting (Monday, 5PM) is a request by Bobby and Debra Green to rezone their Green Nurseries property on the west side of the road from R-1 residential to B-2 commercial; their long-time family business has been there so long that it predates the adoption of any zoning in area -- so it was "grandfathered in" and permitted to operate, but any other type of  commercial enterprise would not be permitted there without rezoning.

The Greens have come before the commission many times over the years -- and have been advised to come up with a plan for a PUD for their property, similar to the two that have now been approved (one awaiting council's ok).

Some permitted uses under the B-2 classification include: general/professional offices, grocery, general merchandise, shopping center, auto repair, personal services, restaurant, bar, ... et al.


Being careful not to turn the city's entrance into another congested Airport Boulevard (like in Mobile) has always been a primary concern expressed by citizens at various planning town hall meetings over the years; potential new competition for downtown businesses has been a worry too.

More rezoning requests are expected from property owners all along the highway, the largest parcel being the one owned by 'Seaman's Capital' at the southwest intersection with Volanta Avenue; any action in pending cases may set a precedent for those.

(A request to rezone property on south Greeno at Faringdon Drive across from the high school was heard at a previous meeting, but tabled indefinitely due to opposition from neighbors.)

According to the city's website, current planning commissioners are:

Lee Turner, Hollie MacKellar, Ralph Thayer, Charles Johnson, Richard Peterson (employee rep.), David Martin, Rebecca Bryant, Art Dyas. Jimmy Conyers is the city council's representative at this time.

All but Turner and MacKellar were appointed by Mayor Wilson; council members serve one year rotating terms.

Newly-appointed Art Dyas is expected to attend his first meeting Monday, replacing George Roberbs who resigned: He is a former chairman of Baldwin County's planning commission, as was Roberbs.

Dyess standing at podium

'Hayek PUD' approved last year

New Park Place PUD 

New Section Street Culvert Damaged By Rainstorm

Fairhope, Alabama

CR3 south of Battles Road today


CR 3 south of town is closed again, apparently damaged by stormwater runoff last Thursday from a nearby construction site: the road was closed earlier in the Summer to replace/enlarge the culvert on the county-maintained road.

Some erosion is visible underneath -- and the stream appeared to partially fill in with silt; large tanks and pipes were on site today, possibly to be used to remove it next week.

Mayor Wilson said on Facebook that a stop work order was issued Friday for the Battles Place apartment complex, under construction northeast of the culvert: a Times photographer took new photos of the project this morning, permanent roads and some of the stormwater infrastructure still have not been installed there -- even though some of the duplex apartments are nearing completion.

A new berm appeared to already have been installed on the west side of the project, adjacent Section Street.

Over 6" of rain fell during the relatively-short duration storm Thursday morning.

Battles Place apartment complex today

August 2017 Art Walk

Fairhope, Alabama

Rainy weather for the monthly Art Walk in downtown Fairhope, Alabama.