Thursday, August 6, 2009

Klump Partnership Gets New Commercial Re-Zoning Approval

At its August meeting, The Planning Commission approved the request of Klump Family Limited Partnership to rezone 10.4 acres along HWY 181 (roughly across from Wal Mart) from residential to commercial use ("HWY 181 Place"-- PUD). Uses permitted within the proposed 5 lot subdivision include: general office space, education, post office, retail grocery, retail convenience, general merchandise retail, florist, bakery, drug stores, coffee shops, dry cleaners, restaurants, et al. Planning Commission staff recommended approval, conditionally, upon inclusion of a 20' drainage/heavily landscaped buffer and 8' privacy fence along adjacent Idlewild Subdivision; adequate drainage plan; 50% pervious material used for parking lots; and a vehicular connection with the Orleans Dr. dead end stub in the subdivision. Anticipating complaints from the substantial number of Idlewild residents attending-- acting Commission Chairman Dick Charles said, "Connectivity is a good thing. It prevents bottlenecks and . . . allows rapid 911 emergency access. . . fire, police, ambulance, trash/garbage pickup (no backing up) . . . Speeding is a police issue." Several from the sometimes -boisterous Ildlewild group spoke --primarily against opening Orleans Dr. to traffic: "We believe in connectivity--to the west and old part of town."; "We . . . don't want Wal Mart tied into."; " It's a raceway now with cut thru speeders from Windmill Dr. . . . no police presence. . . concerned about kids."; " We're currently connected. . . we don't need more direct access to Wal Mart." The Owner's Assn. President: " I don't like PUD's either (referring to an earlier comment by Planning Commissioner Bob Clark-- concerning another agenda item-- that "PUD's allow developers to do almost anything . . . I don't like them"). We don't want direct access to Wal Mart. . . we're currently connected. Other subdivsions have been here about the same thing. Some alternative traffic control measures have been discussed (if the road should be opened up)." A representative (Engineering Services) for the owner/developer said they had met with residents-- and also requested a pedestrian only connection to Orleans Dr. be mandated. City Planning Commission Attorney Chris Gill: "Connectivity is part of the Subdivision Regulations . . . with (few) exceptions, connectivity is required. None of the exceptions apply here." Gill went on to mention "traffic calming" devices that could be installed on Idlewild streets: traffic circles, speed tables/humps, narrower lanes, one way only streets-- or even some sort of mechanical gate. "There's a larger issue here," Gill warned, "Do we want to look at changing our connectivity rules?" Commissioner Kant pointed out several exemptions he said were granted for subdivisions elsewhere in town (Rock Creek, Trentino, etc.) Commissioner Moore countered: "Those were not voted for unaniomously. There was heated debate about it. I support the connection. My problem is with incongruent traffic patterns (at the proposed HWY 181/Orleans Dr./Wal Mart entrance intersection). I'm an attorney and represent many accident victims from Airport Blvd. in Mobile" (referring to the design of the new frontage road being proposed here). Commissioner Turner offered that he is 43 years old-- and when he drove through the subdivision in his pickup he "got up to 40 mph" real quick. "I think we can make one legal exception here. I worry about the kids' safety." Commissioner Slade: "We need to (better) define connectivity. Is it streets or paths?" Attorney Gill: "I don't disagree." Comm. Charles: " Every expert (in city planning) we've ever consulted has said. . . connectivity is essential" (for sound future growth and emergency access). "Its an integral part of our Subdivision Regs. and Comprehensive Plan." A motion was made by Comm. Turner to recommend approval -- with added conditions that a "pedestrian only" connection be provided (to Orleans Dr.)-- and to look (Staff, Police Chief) into somehow allowing emergency vehicles some kind of access through there as well. Requiring a site plan review for each lot was also recommended. Commissioner Fiddler spoke up last, thanked all the residents for coming: "But-- I really do believe in connectivity. . . and trying to get some cars off the (main) streets. I think there are creative ways for ya'll to get into Orleans Dr. . . . and keep the Wal Mart folks out . . . like one way, narrower streets, smaller lanes, etc." Fiddler: "I hate that I'm the Lone Ranger." The motion passed on a 6-1 vote. The matter now goes to a future City Council meeting for its final consideration. [Publishers Note: The same property owner reportedly triggered a heated controversy about 3 years ago when it allowed Wal Mart to construct a Super Center on farm land (across 181 from this present proposal)-- in direct defiance of the city's (Village) Comprehensive Growth Master Plan. Fearing a new "big box" retail store would eventually have a negative impact on the old downtown--a substantial group of worried residents organized to try and block the store-- but ultimately failed.]


Dr.Know said...

Its the old NIMBY syndrome. They think connectivity is a good thing, just not in their neighborhood.

Connectivity is the solution for urban sprawl and clogged highways according to experts.

Everybody has to cooperate --for the good of the whole community--instead of making selfish demands like little kids (We want this and we want that!)
Of course the usual spineless, pandering politicians looking for votes shift opinions accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Fidler was about the only one with any backbone there.

Those Idlewilders must think they run the whol town.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the anti Wal Mart fanatics were right this time. Downtown is deteriorating, becoming just another watering hole for drunken tourists

Patti1954 said...

i live in Idlewild. The truth is most of the speeding is done by residents. Many are chatting on the phone, oblivious to all. What we need here are speed humps.

Fish767 said...

they don't enforce traffic laws enough in this town. chamber of commerce won't let them-- might hurt their business they say.

Anonymous said...

That intersection needs to be offset from the Walmart entrance. Speed humps, 4 way stop signs, mini traffic circles, etc can be used in Idlewild There already is a mini circle there anyway. Better police enforcement too. Don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.

We have to put up with through traffic in our neighborhood for the greater good, its not right for politicians to be giving exceptions just to garner votes.
Grow a backbone and stick to the PLAN.

Anonymous said...

klumps given a lot of campaign dollars to the mayor and some other politicians you know

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good project to me Those anti wal mart fanatics are wrong as usual.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor's developer friends are killing downtown retail with all their new big box stores and malls on the outskirts