Thursday, September 21, 2017

Congressman Holds Silverhill Town Hall

Fairhope, Alabama


First District Congressman Bradley Byrne fielded questions for about an hour from a packed house this morning about repealing the Affordable Care Act, veterans healthcare, the border wall, and the new Graham/Cassidy bill, among others.

He said he supports building the border wall, providing all veterans cards to let them go to local private healthcare providers, and thinks the new Graham/Cassidy Senate proposal (to repeal 'Obamacare') may be good for Alabama (more money for medicaid) -- but is still studying it and has not taken an official position yet.

He added he was not optimistic about anything passing the U.S. Senate, though.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rose Garden Condos Get Thumbs Down

Fairhope, Alabama

Pope standing


After a lengthy hearing, the city's Board of Adjustments and Appeals voted unanimously to deny a variance and 'special exception' to allow a three -story,  four-unit condominium building to be constructed east of the Rose Garden at the main pier.

Owner Bob Pope was asking for front and rear setback variances and permission for a multi-family project on his property at 4 Beach Road at the base of the bluff: He cited the long history of various commercial activity there including a water tower at one time.


City Planning Director Dyess recommended denying the requests because of the proposed density and height; but added he was sympathetic to the setback variances.

Several citizens spoke against the project; no one for it.

Board member John Avent agreed there may be setback issues with the property but said the project "breaks every rule in the book" otherwise.

Avent summarized calling a multi-family in the tourist district "the worst idea I ever heard."

Pope has the option of appealing the decision to civil court.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rose Garden Condos Back On Agenda

Fairhope, Alabama


'Down by the Bay Cafe'
After being pulled from the August meeting's agenda by the applicant, a controversial proposal by Bob Pope to build four condominiums on Beach Road at the base of the bluff east of the rose garden will be considered again by the city's Board of Adjustments and Appeals during Monday's September 18th meeting at 5PM in the city council chamber.

Pope is requesting an appeal of the "allowed uses" in the B3b 'Tourist Resort' zoning district (Commercial Services District) -- and a 20' rear setback variance; but the Times has been informed that city planning staff will recommend denial due to non-compliance with allowable density and the building's proposed height.

The 'Down By the Bay Cafe' currently operates in the building on the Single Tax Colony parcel leased to Pope.

Board members could accept staff's recommendation -- or vote to grant the appeal and variance as requested by the applicant.

Current Board of Adjustments members are:
  • John Avent
  • E. Richard Schneider
  • Cathy Slagle
  • Troy Strunk
  • Anil Vira
  • Christina Stankoski (1st Alternate)
  • Harry Kohler (2nd Alternate)

Anil Vira is the current chairman of the committee.

Fairhope's Alabama Coastal Cleanup Day

Fairhope, Alabama


Sanitation supervisor Dale Linder and numerous other city employees were working today as volunteer citizens brought in trash they had picked up in city neighborhoods and parks along the city's waterfront and waterways this morning.

Some plastic items not normally recycled here will be processed today only and sent to a recycler in New Jersey funded by one of the event's sponsors, Thompson Engineering, Linder said.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Changes Coming For Holiday Tree Lights This Year

Fairhope, Alabama


After a controversy about how it was done last year, at its last meeting the city council passed a resolution authorizing a private electric company to install the miniature lights on downtown trees this year.

Low bidder Bay Shore Electric was to be awarded the contract ($138,800) if ethics issues could be worked out by city attorneys and the state ethics commission; one of its owners worked for the city within the last two years and participated in a pre-bid meeting.

Subsequently though, the ethic's commission raised objections and the next lowest bidder, Winterland Inc. for $147,800, was to be awarded the contract instead.

Mayor Wilson estimated it cost the city about $167K last year for electric department employees to install them, mostly in labor and overtime -- but emphasized the department has more important maintenance work to do that should not be neglected: they should not be tied up for the several months to install them.

Indiana-based Winterland Inc. specializes in decorative lighting installation and it should only take about two weeks for them to string the 15,000 strands of LED's; installation should begin immediately.

LED's (light emitting diodes) are more expensive up-front; but the cost is more than offset by the power savings.

The mayor said she discovered Winterland (click) at a convention in Atlanta she attended earlier in the year.

Councilman Boone said this is the ideal time to test private installation, since a city electric crew was just sent to Florida to help with hurricane recovery.

Parts of some city streets may have to be closed during installation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Building Maintenance Department Possible

Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope library north side 


The city council is considering creating a new city department for the maintenance of all city buildings and their associated equipment; building maintenance technician Lance Cabanis envisions a three-person department to deal with chronic maintenance issues that have been ongoing at various buildings for years.

The library, municipal pool, and golf clubhouse buildings are currently in need of repair -- and other buildings have been problematic over the years as well.

The new department would be responsible for mechanical, some electric, and general/routine maintenance of systems such as air conditioning.


Walker at left.
Jim Walker of Goodwyn Mills and Caywood proposed solutions to fix chronic roof leaks: He said  most of the leaks originate on the roof itself, but some others from the buildings 'envelope."

The entire 'low roof' area on the north side (green in the photo  below) needs to be removed and replaced (membrane) as well as edge flashing, gutters and downspouts.

The 'high roof' area (gray in photo) is in "decent" shape and only areas of the membrane need to be cut out and replaced; and the entire area re-coated. Some of the "clerestory" windows there also need to be replaced with shorter ones -- and the wall re-configured appropriately, he said.

Some of the windows there were not assembled correctly.

Windows leaking
The 'children's octagon' and Giddens Room roofs only need re-coating.

Stucco and bricks throughout are in "fair shape" but areas need to be cut out and replaced; the entire building needs to be pressure washed.

Preliminary cost estimate is for about $500K plus engineering fees, all to be included in next year's budget.

The repair project will have to be put out for bids before the actual costs are known.

Library roof (north is up).


The council recently accepted city staff's recommendation to reject the bid of $186K for repairs to the city's municipal pool building because only one bid was submitted -- and to to allow time to change the scope and specifications for the project.
West facade

Part of the exterior facade on the west side began to collapse about a year and a half ago and had to be shored up; there is no structural problem and the interior of the building itself is safe, according to recreation officials.

Additional work may be needed to improve ventilation to prevent corrosion -- and some framing may need to be replaced.

Air conditioning was planned when the building was constructed to decrease humidity build-up inside but was never installed, according to Operations Director Peterson.


A new scaled-back estimate of water damage repairs at the Quail Creek Golf course clubhouse is $209K, including new decking in back and ADA compliance (ramp, doors).

Leaks below windows and incorrect installation of siding caused extensive damage to that 1983-constructed building.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma At Fairhope's Pier

Fairhope, Alabama


A strong northwest wind caused white-capped waves in Mobile Bay today as the remains of hurricane Irma passes by northeast of the city.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma Refugees Filling County Shelter

Fairhope, Alabama

Baldwin County coliseum


Although hotels along the Eastern Shore are already mostly-full, Florida-tagged cars, vans and recreational vehicles were still streaming into the county's shelter at the coliseum on Fairgrounds Road in Roberstdale this afternoon.

Donations of food and other necessities were being dropped off at a side door and pets were housed in the rodeo arena behind, serenaded by appropriate music: Security is being provided by the sheriff's department.

Children played basketball and football in the rear and petted horses in front; a food and coffee court was set up in back as well..

All in all the operation seemed well-organized and running smoothly -- by Red Cross and other local volunteers.