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Local Government Update – December 2021

Baldwin County Planning Commission Meeting – December 2, 2021

Magnolia Springs Area Re-Zoning Request Receives Denial Vote

The Baldwin County Planning Commission heard a re-zoning request for 40 acres located on the south side of County Road 16 and east of Magnolia Springs Hwy. The property is zoned RA. The re-zoning request sought to change the zoning to RSF-4 with plans to construct a residential subdivision capable of adding 120 potential lots. The Planning Commission voted to send a denial recommendation to the County Commission, which has the final vote on all re-zoning requests.


Scenic 98 Re-Zoning Request Recommended to Gain Compliance

A re-zoning is being requested along Scenic Hwy. 98 in Point Clear. The property is located at 16390 Scenic Hwy. 98, on the east side of the Hwy. Currently there are three homes on the property on a total of 4.4 acres. With three homes on one parcel the property is non-compliant. Rules only allow for one dwelling unit plus one accessory dwelling unit per lot. To bring the historic property into current compliance a re-zoning from RSF-1 to RSF-2 is being requested on a 16,000 square foot portion. If granted, the re-zoning would allow for the division into two parcels and allow for possible re-sale. The re-zoning request received a favorable recommendation.


Silver Lakes Ph. II Receives Preliminary Plat Approval

The Baldwin County Planning Commission approved the preliminary plat for Silver Lake Phase II. The 14-lot residential subdivision is located north off Enchantment Lane and west of W. Blvd., in the Silverhill area. The property is un-zoned. The smallest lot is .5 acres, and the largest lot is .7 acres.



Fairhope Planning Commission Meeting – December 6, 2021

Downtown Hotel Proposal Meets Criticism

The Fairhope Planning Commission heard an Informal Review for preliminary plans for a hotel proposal on a .6-acre property located at the northeast corner of Bayview Ave. and Fairhope Ave. A historic home currently sits on the site. Developers were seeking feedback from the Planning Commission on a conceptual plan for a 39-unit hotel. The property is zoned B-3(b) which allows a hotel “by right”. Developers acknowledge that the conceptual plans presented could not be built due to the constraints of the property and would tweak the design further before submittal. At issue is the parking requirements. A 39-unit hotel would require 40 parking spaces at least. Questions arose as to whether city off-site parking credits could be used toward the total number of parking spaces required. The Planning Commission and city staff felt strongly that due to the location near public parks and with little on-site parking at the top of the bluff the area in question should not be allowed to claim off-site parking spaces in the total. They saw this location as differing from the traditional central business district and wanted all required parking on-site. Developers took the feedback from the Planning Commission and intend to re-design the project for future submittal.

Initial Rendering of Monarch Hotel

Amendment to Montrose PUD Recommended

The Fairhope Planning Commission recommended approval for an amendment to the PUD (Planned Unit Development) for Montrose Preserve. The 50-acre property is located west of Hwy. 98 generally across from the Rock Creek Subdivision. Plans were approved in 2017 for a 77-lot residential subdivision but the property was never developed. The amendment request seeks to decrease the number of lots down to 18. Some questions remain about ingress and egress over historic unopened rights-of-way in the area that connect to Scenic Hwy. 98. An access point on Hwy. 98 is also possible.


Residential Subdivision Planned for Southeast Fairhope

The Fairhope Planning Commission voted to send a favorable recommendation to the city council for a zoning to R-2 concurrent with annexation for 20 acres southeast of Fairhope. The property is located east of County Road 13, south of County Road 34. A residential subdivision is planned that could hold up to 80 lots, to be named Green Fields.


Amendment to Allow Rooftop Terraces Tabled for Further Review

Fairhope is considering making amendments which would allow for rooftop terraces within the central business district. A rooftop terrace is being defined as an outdoor amenity area located on the roof of a building and must be an accessory to the primary use of the building. Individually owned and operated businesses or venues could not occupy a rooftop terrace. The rooftop terrace would not be considered a story, and could be on top of a 1,2, or 3 story building. The overall height could not exceed 40’, but an additional 5’ could be allowed for an elevator or stairwell structure. A roof edge barrier of 5’ would be required for safety. After some discussion the Planning Commission tabled the proposal for further review and revisions.



Foley Planning Commission Meeting – December 8, 2021

Expansion of Graham Creek Nature Reserve Adds 80 Acres for City

The Foley Planning Commission voted to approve the minor subdivision of 163 acres into four lots. The property is located east of Roscoe Rd. and south of County Rd 12S. The City of Foley is purchasing two of the lots totaling approximately 80 acres. The land will be used for expansion of the Graham Creek Nature Reserve.


Zoning Amendment to Allow Accessory Dwelling Units by Right

The Foley Planning Commission recommended approval of amendments to the zoning ordinance which would allow accessory dwellings units by right. Under current rules an accessory structure cannot include kitchen facilities unless given special approval by the Board of Adjustment and Appeals. The proposed amendment will allow Accessory Dwelling Units by right if they meet the zoning, building, fire, and other regulations required to obtain a permit. The prohibition on kitchens will be removed. Other changes recommended include removal of the GPH-1 (Residential Garden Patio Homes) zoning classification, increase in density per acre in planned residential developments, allowing joint commercial and residential use in B-3 zoning, and increasing common open space requirements for townhome developments.



Orange Beach Planning Commission Meeting – December 13, 2021

Orange Beach Marina PUD Modification Receives Denial Recommendation

The Orange Beach Planning Commission heard a request for a major PUD modification to the Orange Beach Marina PUD (Planned Unit Development) Master Plan for the property located at 27075 Marina Rd. Owners requested the re-zoning of several lots in the Terry Cove Subdivision that are currently zoned RS-1. They asked that those lots be re-zoned to PUD and included in the Master Plan. The request was made to construct additional parking and boat/trailer storage on the re-zoned lots and to construct a 16’ by 32’ retail storage building. The plan would have added 170 parking spaces with two new driveways on Marina Rd. The Planning Commission had concerns over changing the residential zoning of the area and voted 5-3 to send a denial recommendation to the city council. Below is a rendering of the proposed plan.

Orange Beach Marina Proposal

Cactus Cantina Planning New Location in Orange Beach

The Orange Beach Planning Commission recommended approval for the re-zoning of 2.5 acres from NB (Neighborhood Business) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) on property located at 4251 Orange Beach Blvd. Plans for the property include a commercial development containing two buildings. A 6,300 square foot dine-in restaurant is planned to house the Cactus Cantina. A smaller 2,205 square foot building is planned for future undisclosed commercial use.



Gulf Shores City Council Meeting – December 13, 2021

Gulf Shores Approves Phased Lodging Tax Increase

The Gulf Shores City Council gave final approval for an increase in the city’s portion of the lodging tax. A total 3% increase to the city lodging tax will be phased out over a two-year period. Starting September 1, 2022, a 2% lodging tax increase will go in effect – for an overall lodging tax rate of 15%. Starting September 1, 2023, an additional 1% lodging tax increase will take effect – making the total rate 16%. The phased approach was done to curb the impact on existing rental pre-bookings for the 2022 spring break and summer season. The increase is being made to fund a 10-year capital improvement plan that includes upgrades in transportation, public safety, park and recreation and school improvements. The city currently levies a city lodging tax of 7%. The city tax is combined with a county lodging tax of 2% and state lodging tax of 4% for a total of 13%. The total lodging tax in Gulf Shores will be 16% upon final phasing.


Fairhope City Council Meeting – December 13, 2021

Fairhope Enacts Moratorium to Manage Growth

The Fairhope City Council voted unanimously to enact a 12-month moratorium on new subdivisions and multiple occupancy projects outside of the city limits, but within the city’s planning jurisdiction. The move comes after the city has experienced rapid and substantial growth in and around the city. It’s the growth that city officials cite for the burden on public utilities, road, and other infrastructure. The city is wanting to take a pause while city staff work out new amendments to subdivision regulations, the completion of the comprehensive land planning process currently underway, and the completion of pending zoning dist. elections in areas outside the city limits. Residents may not see an immediate decrease in development due to the moratorium because of subdivisions and developments which have already been approved and will soon be starting construction.

Gulf Shores Planning Commission Meeting – December 14, 2021

Venetian Isles Requesting Re-Zoning to Protect Against Disaster

The Venetian Isles Condos located just off Gulf Shores Parkway on the south side of W. 6th Ave. have petitioned the city for a change in zoning from R-2 to R-4. The condos were originally constructed around 1979 on three lots. Subsequent regulations and zoning passed by the city through the years has rendered this development out of compliance with current regulations. As it exists now it is a non-conforming use and a non-conforming structure, and it is not eligible for the savings clause. Thus, if the structure was to experience a catastrophic loss due to hurricane damage, fire, etc. they could not re-build a similar development. The requested zoning of R-4 would allow the re-building of at least 8 units on the property. There are currently 14 units. If approved, the R-4 zoning does not allow for short-term rentals. It is possible that existing short-term rentals could continue to be grandfathered. Any new short-term rental requests would have to petition for a conditional use permit under R-4 zoning. The Planning Commission voted to send a favorable recommendation to the city council for the re-zoning request.


Amendments to Subdivision Regulations Recommended

The Gulf Shores Planning staff outlined a couple changes they are recommending to the city’s subdivision regulations to limit confusion as to setback lines. They are proposing to modify the setback notation requirements on a plat and remove the requirement that setback lines be shown on the preliminary plat. Instead, they propose to make a notation on the preliminary plat that the setback lines would reference whatever the zoning ordinance says for the zoning which is attached to the property. This change is being considered because the zoning on a property can change, and thus when the zoning changes the rules for setback lines could also change. This amendment will prevent an inaccurate plat if the zoning changes on the property. There is also a recommendation to place a two-year expiration date on preliminary plat approvals and set forth a clear process for extensions. The recommendations will move to the city council for final consideration.


Orange Beach City Council Meeting – December 14, 2021

Zekes Marina PUD Modification Request Fails to Gain Majority Support

Owners of Zekes Marina were again before the Orange Beach City Council asking for a modification of the PUD (Planned Unit Development). Back in January of 2021 they obtained approval for a major PUD modification to re-zone 1.6 acres for additional parking spaces and include that area in the PUD master plan. That approval was conditioned on the parking expansion not creating an increase in intensity of the marina, or an expansion of use. Now owners are requesting another modification to the PUD master plan to allow fuel tanks to be installed on the premises and to allow the easternmost pier located on the re-zoned 1.6 acres to have slips for staging dry boat storage and transient boat traffic. The re-zoned 1.6 acres presently contains a prefabricated floating dock with no slips. The city council had issues over whether this constituted an expansion of use or intensity of the marina. The council vote tied at 3-3. With a tie vote, the request fails.


Baldwin County Commission Meeting – December 21, 2021

Re-Zoning Approved for RV Resort

The Baldwin County Commission gave final approval for a re-zoning of 5 acres on the north side of Brinks Willis Rd., east of Foley. The parcel is part of a larger tract which is already zoned B-4. Plans for the property include the development of a 65 lot RV resort.

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