Thursday, January 29, 2015

East-side Townhome Decision Delayed

Fairhope, Alabama

River Mill entrance

At the January Planning Commission meeting, a proposal by R.M. Development Corp. to change the zoning so that about 7 town homes may be constructed at the entrance to the River Mill neighborhood on Fairhope Ave. (east of the Walmart store) was delayed after numerous residents objected, mainly over longstanding stromwater runoff drainage concerns.

Craig and Daniel Dyas are asking that their property be rezoned from R-3 to R-3TH: both considered "high density" residential.

They claim the new zoning designation would actually improve the drainage there -- by lessening the total impervious surface area, under that of the R-3 designation already in place (single family homes).

Dyas presented no detailed drawings of his proposal; he wanted to get the property re-zoned before hiring architects/engineers to do that, rather than risk losing that money if it could not be re-zoned.

The River Mill Owners Assn.  presented a petition (120 signatures) against the proposal and those directly adjacent to the property had pictures of how stormwater overflows onto their yards and over River Mill Dr. during heavy rains; the water has never actually entered their houses, however.

Dyas said the total number of homes would be about the same in either case; and such drainage issues  occur all over town during heavy rains (such as last April-May) and the mid-1990s project's design (Moore Engineering) met all drainage standards at that time (they are stricter now).

He added River Mill Drive acts as a dam -- and the water level upstream could never get any higher than it does now anyway.

City Planner Smith recommended approval with qualifications, one being the developer complete the sidewalk along FairhopeAve. (Dyas said Walmart should pay for the sidewalk instead.)

Smith said the proposal complied with all current city regulations, including the city's comprehensive plan for higher density residences within walking distance of commercial centers (Village Model).

He added that the flooding issues presented "some challenges" for the designer, however.

Isloe Place Townhomes

Numerous piles of topsoil recently deposited on the property by the developer was also a concern for residents; the mayor said he had asked ADEM to help get it removed before another big storm.

Dyas said he was "stockpiling" the dirt to be spread out later.

Some county-level maps identify the lot as "potential wetlands", but the official map used by the Army Corps. of Engineers (U.S. Fish and Wildlife) does not.

Areas that may be real (determined) wetlands, but have not yet been evaluated are classified as potential ones.


"Land disturbing activities" within wetlands in the city limits are regulated by city ordinance 1370.


Craig Dyas
After a lengthy discussion, the commission seemed split -- with two, Kant and Clark, wanting to settle it immediately (deny/don't table); but ultimately it was decided (7-2 vote) to give the developer and residents some time  work out their disagreements -- and to reconsider the issue at their February meeting.

The mayor, who has often expressed opposition to more building in low-lying areas around town, said he had "heard enough" and "didn't see how anything could ever be built there."

Some commissioners thought the water problems originated from undesignated sources "upstream" in the direction of the Walmart store -- and other more-recent subdivisions and county-controlled road/drainage projects.

Others agreed with Dyas that the re-zone could actually help the drainage problems there; and two wanted to see the specific plans/drawings before voting.

The Planning Commission can only make a recommendations (yea or nay) concerning zoning matters: the city council has the final say.

The runoff water drains into Quail Creek and then Fish River, so care must be taken not to worsen the situation downstream.

(Publisher's Note: It appears as though a portion of the massive Walmart parking lot (north side) drains directly into the ditch along Fairhope Ave. -- and eventually across the Dyas' property, by-passing the store's huge drainage catch-basins; the rest of the parking lot drains directly into the basins, located behind the store. Two other large subdivisions on the north side of Fairhope Ave, also drain through the Dyas' property.)

"Potential" Wetlands on Baldwin County Map

Walmart drainage basin

Looking east, downhill along CR 48 at Walmart


Anonymous said...

I don't have a dog in this fight or have any knowledge as to how this would affect drainage. I do know that no one seems to worry about these things when building their own homes and subdivisions, only after when it might affect them.

Anonymous said...

Wal mart shuld pay. It is not like they do not have the money for it!

Anonymous said...

We live on Marion. The water comes down from the store and floods the patio. We need some help here.

Anonymous said...

Walmart did what they had to do . Blame the people that permitted and inspected the project .

Anonymous said...

That's the typical liberal/progressive mentality that's killing this country.

Anonymous said...

Fairhope floods alot just drive down 42 the next time it rains Walmart has nothing to do with it

Anonymous said...

city should pay

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The city only has money that it collects from utility payments, permit fees, taxes, fines, etc.. In other words, the citizens. So to rephrase your statement, the collective should pay. Seems like I've read that somewhere before...

Publisher said...

At the time of their construction, both Phase 1 of River Mill and the Walmart super center were outside of city limits and regulated by Baldwin County engineering standards at the time.

Anonymous said...

Yes, no matter how you phrase it, city/county citizens but not walmart, I think that Fairhope has so many drainage issues, go to the bay or as I commented before drive down 42 the next time it rains. If you live in Fairhope you should know how expensive taxes are. The money should be there and not try to dump it on someone else.. very democrat way of thinking

Anonymous said...

Fairhope loves to lay blame on someone else. Some one else flip the hill.....every time