Local Government Update, August 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

Baldwin County Planning & Zoning Commission – August 2, 2018

Increased Cell Coverage Coming to County Rd. 54

The Baldwin County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the construction of a cell tower and support structures on the Lazarri property, located at 24900 County Road 54 West.  The 200 ft. cell tower is being constructed by Verizon to cover gaps in service.

More Climate Controlled Storage Approved for Hwy 181

The Baldwin County Planning Commission gave a favorable recommendation for a zoning change for property located on the west side of State Hwy 181, south of Milton Jones Rd.  The change from B-2 and B-4 to M-1 (major commercial) will allow for development of a climate-controlled storage facility for RVs and boats.  The zoning change will require final approval from the County Commission.

Zoning Change Will Pave Way for Bakery in Lillian

There was large community support at the Baldwin County Planning Commission for a zoning change from RSF-1 to LB (limited business) for .12 acres on the southwest corner of 6th St. and Barclay Ave., in Lillian.  The zoning change, upon approval by the County Commission, will allow for owners to operate a much desired bakery and coffee shop.

Re-Zoning Could Allow Gas Station for Belforest Area

The Baldwin County Planning Commission gave a favorable recommendation to re-zone 8.7 acres from RSF-E to B-4 (major commercial).  If approved by the County Commission, the zoning change would allow a gas station and convenience store on property located at the intersection of County Road 64 and County Road 54, in the Belforest area, east of Daphne.

Property North of Fairhope Publix Subject of Re-Zoning Request

The owner of an undeveloped .998-acre tract located on the east side of U.S. Hwy 98, north of Parker Road wants the zoning changed.  The property is currently B-2.  The owner is requesting B-3 to allow for the possibility of additional commercial activity on the property.  They say they have lost potential sales of the property due to the current zoning.  There are no current plans for the property, if the County Commission gives final approval for the re-zoning. 

Re-Zoning Would Allow Piggly Wiggly in Robertsdale

The Baldwin County Planning Commission gave a favorable recommendation to re-zone 6.8 acres from RA to B-3, to allow a Piggly Wiggly grocery store to be built on the parcel.  The property is located on the west side of State Hwy. 59, north of Thompson Rd., just north of the Central Baldwin Middle School.  The proposed development would have two entrances onto Hwy. 59.  The request will now go to the County Commission for final approval.


Fairhope Planning & Zoning Commission – August 6, 2018

Landscape Could Be Changing for East Fairhope

Discussions were held by the Fairhope Planning Commission at their August meeting regarding site plan approval of Northgate Subdivision.  At issue is a project located on the south side of St. Hwy 104, west of the intersection of Lawrence Rd., and bordering the east side of 3 Circle Church.  Property owners of the Verandas Subdivision are planning to convey land from future phases to a new developer which plans to create Northgate Subdivision, consisting of 482 lots on 174 acres.  This conveyance would remove 99 lots from the Verandas Subdivision.  Smart Living, LLC is named as the developer of the Northgate Subdivision and is proposing a 10 year build out plan.  The discussions were tabled, and the site plan request is expected to appear on the agenda for the September Planning Commission. 

Also coming up in discussions about the area were plans for a multiple occupancy permit for an apartment complex on the north side of Hwy. 104, at the corner of Higbee Rd.  This is expected to be addressed at the September Baldwin County Planning Commission meeting.


Orange Beach Planning & Zoning Commission – August 13, 2018

Ordinance Amendment Proposed to Limit Roof and Window Signage

The Orange Beach Planning Commission held a lengthy discussion about possible changes to the city ordinance regarding roof and window signage.  At issue are “window wraps” which are being used to cover the majority of a window space for the purpose of advertisement.  Window wraps are becoming more common in businesses around Orange Beach.  The city is seeking to limit the amount of window coverage allowed.  The Planning Commission deferred acting on the proposed amendment until new language could be finalized. 

Liquid Life Constructing New Commercial Building

The Orange Beach Planning Commission granted site plan approval for Liquid Life, a property management company, to construct a 11,300 sq. ft. commercial building.  The property is located at 4251 Orange Beach Blvd. in the NB (neighborhood business) zoning district, north of the new Dollar General.  Liquid Life intends to conduct all aspects of their short-term rental property management business from the new location.


Fairhope City Council – August 13, 2018

Changes to Impact Fee Ordinance Approved

The City of Fairhope amended its Impact Fee Ordinance to change the allocation of fees and to increase the fee cap.  Impact fees are generally assessed to builders when developing property, and go to the city.  Under state law, impact fees cannot exceed 1% of the property value.  Fairhope relied on an analysis conducted by a consultant group to best determine the allocation of impact fee funds based on future growth and needs.  Based on the results, the largest percentage of fees for residential construction will go toward transportation.  The largest percentage of fees for non-residential will go toward fire protection, and the largest percentage of fees for occupancy/lodging will go toward parks and recreation.  The city also increased the fee cap from $4,184 to $5,830, but cannot exceed 1% of property value.  The ordinance amendment will now apply impact fees to renovations (tear down and re-build), whereas the old version only applied to new construction. 

The Village at Firethorne PUD Given Final Approval

The Fairhope City Council gave final approval for a zoning change to PUD (planned unit development) for The Village at Firethorne.  The approval is concurrent with annexation into the city limits.  This will add 20 new lots on 6.2 acres.  The addition will be located on the southeast corner of the existing Firethorne Subdivision, at the end of Hemlock Dr.


Spanish Fort City Council – August 20, 2018

Property Tax Question Could Come in February Special Election

Voters could get to decide whether to increase property taxes in the Spanish Fort school feeder pattern to supplement the Spanish Fort schools, in a February special election.  A public hearing at the Spanish Fort City Council was poorly attended by the public, but seemed to have the support of the council.  Spanish Fort officials have been in negotiations with the Baldwin County Board of Education to work out terms of a potential agreement.  Initial discussions centered around placing the issue on the November general election ballot.  But, city leaders decided that November was too soon to gather all the information.  And, the possibility of re-districting the feeder pattern lines made delaying a vote more sensible.  City officials believe that Interstate 10 will be a dividing line in future changes by the Board of Education.  If placed on a special election ballot in February, voters will decide whether to increase property taxes by 3 mils.  Based on estimates, this would generate $500,000 - $750,000 in additional funds which would be earmarked for Spanish Fort schools, which would be used for academic improvements. 


Baldwin County Commission – August 21, 2108

Redemption Rule Change for Delinquent Taxes Helps Property Owners

The Baldwin County Commission adopted a resolution to mirror a change in state law which will make redemption of delinquent tax property a little easier.  Under previous law, counties could sell their outstanding tax liens on real property.  The purchaser of the tax liens obtained the right to collect all delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and costs with respect to the property.  This resulted in abuses by tax lien purchasers and exorbitant interest rates and penalties being passed on to property owners.  The new law allows counties to authorize tax liens to be sold at auction to the bidder with the lowest interest rate.


Fairhope City Council, August 27, 2018

Site Plan Approved for Downtown Fairhope

The Fairhope City Council gave final approval for a mixed-use development to be located at the southwest corner of Magnolia Ave., and Church St., in downtown Fairhope.  When completed, the project will house six buildings on .81 acres, which will be a mix of residential and commercial.  The buildings will be three stories high, which is allowed in the central business district.


Gulf Shores Planning Commission – August 28, 2018

Water Access Amendment Could Decrease Beach Trespassing

The Gulf Shores Planning Commission gave initial approval for a zoning ordinance amendment to allow water access from a multi-family development, through single family residential and duplex zoned property by issuance of a conditional use permit.  The approval is aimed at allowing beach access for people located on the north side of Beach Blvd., and will combat the common occurrence of trespassing and dune destruction.  Limitations on the conditional use permit state that the access must be a minimum of 100 feet wide, have a locking gate, provide a dune walkover, and are available to multi-family developments of 20 units or less. 

Residential Development of 575 units Proposed in Gulf Shores

The Gulf Shores Planning Commission gave a favorable recommendation to re-zone 83.34 acres from R-1-4 and R-4 to PUD (planned unit development).  The master plan for the area describes a mixed-use residential development consisting of 575 units that would include a mixture of single family homes, apartments, attached carriage homes, etc.  The property is part of a tract located off 36th St., and is currently vacant wooded land.  An eighty- foot wide roadway is also planned through the development which would be an east to west connection from Hwy. 59 and be dedicated to the city.  Final re-zoning approval will go before the city council.