Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Decisions Delayed On Controversial Apartment Projects

Fairhope, Alabama

(Check back for updates)

Mayor-elect Wilson addresses Planning Commission


standing room only
After lengthy discussions, by a 4-3 vote the city's planning and zoning commission decided to table final Multiple Occupancy Project approval of 240 apartment units on US 98 behind Publix grocery (aka the Retreat at Fairhope Village) until its next meeting; and the applicant for another apartment development south of town (Old Battles Place) voluntarily delayed his application to allow time to work out concerns raised by city staff.

The commission still has the option of conditionally approving or just flat-out denying the Fly Creek project plan at its next meeting -- but taking no action at all will allow for automatic approval after 30 days but without the conditions imposed on it by city staff.

There must be a legitimate reason for denying though: delaying until a lawsuit is over or "just not liking it" do not qualify according to the city's planning attorney.

[Place two councilman-elect and current planning commission member Jay Robinson mentioned a delay until after the current lawsuit (alleging creek damage) is over, but was told that would not satisfy the legally-prescribed timeline.]

Preble Risch/Dewberry Engineering is the applicant in this case.

The planning commission meets again in 27 days (Oct 3rd)

Retreat at Fairhope Village


Old Battles Place duplex
A new  110-unit Multiple Occupancy Project south of town called Old Battles Place, located at the northeast corner of Section Street and Old Battles Road, was also tabled by request of the applicant (HMR Engineering) to allow time to address some objections raised during the discussion: primarily the city horticulturist's that the landscape plan submitted does not fully meet the city's tree ordinance.

The lack of a traffic study due to road construction in the area and possible sewage lift station improvements are also reasons for delay.

This project will consist of 2 and 3 bedroom duplexes and triplexes with rent ranging from about $1400 to $1600/month; the entrance to phase one will be from Section Street only (CR3) but phase two will add another access from Old Battles Road. (see the drawing below)


planning commission
Karin Wilson, who heavily criticized the Fly Creek project during her campaign, spoke against final approval but was told by planning attorney Chris Gill that if all conditions set out in the city's subdivision regulations and other applicable laws are met, the commission must approve it -- or risk becoming the target of lawsuits by the applicants.

Likewise, she was told the same concerning the Old Battles project: because the property is already zoned R-5 for apartments denying it without just cause could result in claims against the city from the developers/owners.

Since so many citizens object to the projects, Wilson suggested current public opinion should be factored in to the decision as well -- and suggested the city's attorneys make maximum efforts to do so.

Wilson and Robinson will be sworn in on November 7th: she will automatically become a planning commission member at that time and will have to appoint someone to replace Robinson on the commission.

Most planning commissioners are appointed by the mayor and serve six year terms: The Times is attempting to find out when other current members' terms expire.

Commission chairman Turner and mayor Kant did not attend this meeting. George Roberbs conducted the meeting in Turner's absence.

Old Battles Place

Old Battles location

Old Battles site


Anonymous said...

Having watched this debacle on line yesterday afternoon it explains so much about what is wrong with our city and why the citizens voted for change. That entire planning commission needs to be replaced.
The old guard must really hate that these meetings are being held broadcast live. Wake up from the pollen coma Fairhope.

Anonymous said...

Poor planning and oversight by the former administration will most likely result in these project moving forward, sadly. Maybe we can stop the bleeding before the entire town is inundated with eventual trailer parks disguised as apartments and duplexes.

Richard said...

Whatever happened to private property rights?
People should be able to do what they want with there own property.
Build apartments or whatever!!
The government should not be telling us what we can or cannot do with our property.
It is a taking .... by big government just like in Russia.

Anonymous said...

The meeting was a disaster. The chairman let people talk on and on and on. The same thing over and over.

South going gal said...

She was elected because people don't want these developments. Lusten to the people.

South going gal said...

Wilson was elected because the cities of Fairhope don't want these developments

Anonymous said...

I agree. Why should government be telling people what they can and cannot do with their land?

Anonymous said...

The problem is that their rights end where mine start. Why am I paying for the impact these new residents cause in terms of road building expenses, sewage improvements, decline in land value, etc.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the rules....change em. Too late on these. More lawsuits that were promised to end. And the people have been wrong before.

D Brandt said...

Can the current water supply and sewage treatment plants handle the additional growth without incurring the cost for any expansion? Road conditions? Increase in cost for police and fire protection? Excuse me, please, if these concerns have already been answered in this article and I skipped padt it. A. Brandt

Publisher said...

A $13 million upgrade to the sewage treatment plant to handle projected growth for the next 15 years was completed last year; "impact fees" imposed years ago on new development go to things like added police and fire protection equipment.

Anonymous said...

I see disguised entitlement. Call what you will, but you're not concerned about any drainage or streets, you want people to serve your needs but not live in the same city as you. As a long time resident and grad of 96, I am disgusted to see my hometown turn into this. You have to thank Kantor and the people up there for your home values. Your are closing to door on all you see as just the "help".
Careful what you wish for, might get it....

Anonymous said...

Legally, this project has passed all the hurdles. Morally, environmentally, ethically and otherwise it tramples on everything and everyone in this town. Yes, the owner may have the legal right to move forward but this development will leave a lasting black eye on our town and community as a whole. I wonder how much land this family would actually own if not for generations government subsidized farm payments totaling MILLIONS of dollars.

Roger said...

My home's value keeps rising every year.
Kant's been doing something right.
Hope the new mayor can keep it up...
she may not be qualified... .

Anonymous said...

Our town needs healing and prayer now more than ever. HE is the only answer.

Anonymous said...

No doubt. Like him or hate him, he made fairhope into what it is today

Anonymous said...

The same reason that people paid for the impact for you to live in Fairhope. When did time change that you can tell someone else what to do with their property.

Anonymous said...

I guess the decision the people of Fairhope have to make is "do we want to deny these projects knowing full well costly lawsuits against us will follow and that we may well lose?"

Anonymous said...

So if your neighbor decides that they don't like the tree in your yard that's blocking the sun from shining on their property, then they can ask for the neighborhood to vote to cut it down. I know America has gotten bad but i did not know that it was so bad you can infringe on someones rights because you don't like it.Yes you may have an opinion but you can't control people. I am sure someone does not like something you do either.

Anonymous said...

If you read the other article on those apartments, the board made all types of changes to assure all these are met. Including water,sewer,electric, environment impacts at extra cost to the developer. Remember people do some research yourself, don't ever take someone's word you can't trust them. Thats how Karen got elected on lies from articles like the Rip report that is one persons option that wants to tell you what to do. If they don't like your opinion they will attack you until you leave. Ask the people that started the Fly creek grill and cafe, two people decided they did not like music 1 time a month, boom basically complained to the point they sold out. Whats happening to America

Anonymous said...

Their you go someone else talking bad about someone they have never met. Someone that feels they should control someone else because of there option. See you later America welcome to Russia

Anonymous said...

I am so disappointed in the little town I chose to call home. Yes I moved to Fairhope and am not "native" but am from Alabama and thought I would enjoy returning to the Deep South after living all over the world but the truth is Fairhope is the most unwelcoming places I have ever lived. I was very concerned by the tone of Karin Wilson and some of the council candidates before the election and have been worried about our town ever since. Yes, I say our town in spite of the fact that I wasn't born here, didn't graduate from Fairhope High School and neither did my children. I do however pay taxes and support local businesses, businesses that would not be here without the support of the entire community. Of course the bookstore owned by the mayor elect might still be successful since they seem to able to get grants instead of relying on old fashioned entrepreneurship and hard work but I digress. The mayor elect might do well to remember that she was not elected by a large majority and almost 50 percent of the voters don't agree with her and also that one of the campaign issues she raised was that Mayor Kant was responsible for lawsuits against the city and now she is pushing action that could cost the city millions in lawsuits. Don't get me wrong, I was not in favor of the apartment complex behind Publix as traffic is already nightmarish but property owners do have rights. Sadly the mayoral race seemed much like the presidential election, based on fear mongering.

Randal said...

Is the proposed Old Battles Road project even in the city limits? I don't see where it's the city's business what goes there, as long as zoning allows it. All of those in opposition were perfectly fine to the development of the ground their own houses sit on, so what's wrong with allowing it for others? Hypocrite much?

And apartments being disguised as trailer parks?! Someone needs to knock you off your high horse buddy. You obviously got a big nose you're looking down with your bigoted views. People are going to live where they can afford, I promise you there is plenty of trashy attitudes living in your precious Rock Creek and Woodlands.

Anonymous said...

Why do we keep forgetting this project was originally single family and live work units changed into high density apartments right next to the creek. This project has been allowed to morph into a horror project.

Anonymous said...

Corte promised he wouldn't develop this property with Apts and turned around and did it anyway. This was pushed through by Kant and his cronies. And as far as Karin winning 53% of the vote, that is a remarkable win considering it was done in one month. At least she wants what the citizens want.
Corte could build something g to enhance the community and would be a win for all.

Publisher said...

In response to some of the comments, the Old Battles project is within the city limits and the population density of the Fly Creek PUD project has not changed: the number of apartment residents will be the same as for the originally-proposed town homes and condos.

Anonymous said...

Diana Brewer voted for the apartments. Vote against her in the runoff. This will be a start. FYI she let a house go to foreclosure in 2011. Is this the candidate for Fairhope? Irresponsible to say the least..