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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Updated: New Roundabout Fillin' Station On Hold For Now

Fairhope, Alabama

Updated to include Commissioner Elliot's Facebook comments at bottom.


proposed station site must be filled in?


DELAY ONLY TEMPORARY?

An usually reliable source tell the Times that ADEM has given clearance for the gas station at the NW segment of the new roundabout: no wetlands are involved there, but since the city issued no land disturbance permit the hole dug up earlier in the month will have to be filled in before one can be issued.

The property is owned by Thomson and M J Rotch and valued at $172,500, according to current online county land records;  driveway accesses were added during the roundabout's construction.

A stop-work order was issued by the city's building department, but since the property is outside of the city limits and is still un-zoned, if all other legal requirements (ie. appropriate building plans submitted) are met, the project will likely go forward.

Mayor Kant told the city council at its last meeting that the worker doing the digging on August 5th told a city employee that "we're building a gas station ... and there is nothing you can do about it"  -- and he said (the worker) two county commissioners were aware of the project. (Commissioner Elliot told the Times' later he was not one of them)

Construction and growth outside of the city limits has become a major issue in the election campaign -- and some candidates are advocating for expedited implementation of the new village model task force committee recommended by the comprehensive growth plan consultants as a way to deal with such issues in the extra-territorial planning jurisdiction: more planning personnel will be needed to handle the increased workload though.

The comprehensive plan map keeps property all along the Fairhope Avenue corridor residential, with commercial in village centers at Hwy 181 and at Greeno Road only: it is not itself a legally-binding document though.

This gas station has become a metaphor for deficiencies of the city's growth plan.


ANNEXATION VOLUNTARY

There is currently no practical, legal mechanism for annexing such property into the city limits (unless requested by property owners)  and county residents have repeatedly rejected enacting county-administered zoning themselves in county Planning District 14: Un-zoned property is generally of higher value than zoned because of wider commercial development potential.

Exploring pulling back city police and fire protection (and other amenities) to the city limits has been mentioned in the past as a possible way to encourage annexation,-- but never seriously considered by the city council.  (Some city services must be provided to utility customers beyond city limits, according to state law, is the reason often given.)

Once city population reaches 25K though, other means of annexation become available, according to officials.



Commissioner Elliot's comments:

"I'd like to clarify a few points about the roundabout and rumors of a gas station. I figured some facts would help. The intersection of 13/48 is in a partially in the city and partially in the county. It's also governed by something called extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). This means that while portions of this area are in the county, the City of Fairhope issues (or refuses to issue) building permits and has subdivision authority over this property. It's worth noting that the city (no matter the mayor and no matter the council makeup) must issue permits and permissions if all requirements are met. For any candidate for elected office to tell you differently is disingenuous and disappointing.
The corner in question (North West) is in the county and has not been annexed into the city. (the property owner would have to request it). When county zoning was adopted by the voters some time ago, this area decided not to go along and consequently this area is un-zoned. Yep...un-zoned and that's what the voters decided. Should we ask the voters again? YES and soon and that's the ONLY way to address this issue and many like it county wide. But it's the voters decision not any elected official so please place blame appropriately.
So, we're left with an un-zoned parcel on the north west corner of a major intersection at one of the gateways to the City of Fairhope.
A portion of this property needed to be acquired in order to construct the roundabout at 13/48.
One of the requests of the owner while negotiating the price of the right of way to be acquired was access to the remaining parcel. This is completely normal in the right of way acquisition process and is routine. As you can imagine, sellers want to know how (and where) they are going to access their property once the road improvement is constructed. As a result of this negotiation, the 13/48 roundabout project (and the project plans) included two aprons constructed only on right of way to allow access to the remaining parcel.
As I understand it, during the right-of-way acquisition process, the owners of this property (who live just to the west and have owned both parcel for some time) entered negations to sell the remainder of the corner and completed the sale some time after the right of way acquisition process was completed.
The new owner of the remaining parcel owns and operates a number of gas stations in Baldwin County. Accordingly, I can understand where the rumors began.
Since the property is un-zoned, but in Fairhope's ETJ any building permit or change that required subdivision approval would be approved (or denied) by the City of Fairhope. However, as of today, I know of no application to the city of this kind.
Any speculation about the future of this corner is just that at this point but I would stay involved and make your opinion known to your city leaders. I've discussed this with many of them and feel that they agree with your concerns.
I hope that this gives you in depth understating of this issue and again appreciate you taking the time to decipher the rumors. Please feel free to contact me any time if I can be of further assistance. My cell phone number is 487-1567 or please feel free to get me anytime at ctelliott@baldwincountyal.gov"

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Can you imagine how congested the roundabout will get if the gas station is built? How did no one see this coming??? J.P.

Anonymous said...

After reading the comments on Facebook, if you want to through zoning render someones property useless but still require them to pay property taxes and upkeep, than but your money where your mouth is, buy the property and plant all the flowers you want!

Anonymous said...

This is to big for our hapless city council to tackle. They do not have the time anyway they say.

Anonymous said...

comment number 2 illustrates the problem. greedy, selfish, interested only in making money, the root of all evil, not the well being of the community as a whole.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with it. we need one there.

Anonymous said...

Baldwin county needs to clean house and get some competent people in place that can manage growth and not be indebted to developers with "friends".

Anonymous said...

Please read comments made by Chris Elliot about this. Apparently misinformation is being bandied about.

Anonymous said...

to comment 4 - whats not selfish, greedy and evil about telling others what you cannot do and at their expense, typical Fairhope, self absorbed, the Kardasians of towns!

Anonymous said...

The citizens in the area need to get on the ball quickly to either get their area zoned or to be annexed into the City of Fairhope. We all can complain but the neighbors are the ones who can organize and spring into action.

Anonymous said...

Why do we need one there? There are gas stations at 98 & 181. No need for one there.

Anonymous said...

The scripture is " the LOVE of money is the root of evil"

Anonymous said...

The city limits is beyond Thompson Hall Rd a good half mile east of the round-a-bout.

Publisher said...

We appreciate Commissioner Elliot's comments and his willingness to put them on the record in writing. Our reporters often have to rely on the veracity of oral ones expressed in person during private conversations -- but one thing we know is factual for sure: all statements attributed to government officials or others "in the loop" published here were indeed made by them. The Times makes an effort to be aggressive in its reporting rather than just sitting on stories until it is to late for any public good: We often do not name sources to protect them from possible repercussions by superiors.

In this case, we believe our reporting has proved so far to be substantially accurate: A gas station was planned there for some time, city planning/building officials had no warning, and the proper land disturbance permit was not obtained. All of that came from the mayor himself or was discussed during a public work session.

Current online county property records may not indicate that land ownership has changed, but that is not our fault: if they are not accurate the reasonable question would then become "why aren't they?"

Anonymous said...

So if I try and make some money so I can feed, cloth and provide shelter for my family, I'm evil?

Anonymous said...

The solution is simple, buy the property as the Triangle property was. But wait, the people who think money is the root of all evil are not about to part with their money to make that happen.

Anonymous said...

The best way to effectively combat unwanted growth prior to proper zoning protections is unwanted publicity and a banding together by the community to boycott this station should it be built AND all the other stations operated by the owner. Let the market decide.

Anonymous said...

When people who want to build blights on the land are faced with monetary loss, they may decide to become better citizens.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we don't need one there, but if I owned the property and got the correct permits I should be able to do what I want. The same people complain that are on this comment section about the city telling them you can't cut a tree down or build a fence on there property without proper permits. Also the biggest traffic problem you can have is a school, and that is why they built the traffic circle in daphne, to relieve the traffic. So a gas station is not going to hurt traffic.

Anonymous said...

There's just so much love and kindness in Losthope.

Anonymous said...

The city council gave them the green light when it rezoned the vacant church down the street for commercial though... another mistake by the current hapless crew!

Anonymous said...

I know one thing we dont need no woman mayor. Who do she think she is anothar Hillary Clinton? Womans place is at home taking care of her kids and husbands not in govenment. So says the Good Book.

Anonymous said...

Great sign at hwy 48 church. The ultimate judge will judge those that judge!

Henry Rollins said...

I'm all for land owner's rights. It's nobody's business what you are doing with your own property, provided you are following the law. I shut up a bossy transplant neighbor once by threatening to put a pig farm on my land. Since we are unzoned, all they could do was deal with it or calm down. Never had a problem with my neighbor again. :-)

Anonymous said...

I own a business right outside Fairhope city limits. I will never agree to be annexed. Tree hugging Fairhopian communists, their sign ordinances, protests of Walmart, and haughty attitudes need to grow up. Property rights as well as many other rights and privileges guaranteed by the State Constitution are a black and white issue. Inciting boycotts to negatively affect businesses in the area is detrimental to the local community. Grow up and learn some manners. Walmart and other businesses in the area employee and feed a lot of local families. How dare you. Grow up, you can't always get what you want. Growth and development is part of life. Learn to deal with it now because a lot more growth and development is coming to Fairhope. Stop attacking those of us in the community and redress the proper representatives.

Anonymous said...

Wow - some hateful comments and related gibberish along with 3rd grade spelling from the usual "old timers".