Foley subdivision plans worry neighbors

By Guy Busby
Goverment Editor
Posted 4/27/22

FOLEY — A proposal for a subdivision near Graham Creek that drew protests from residents of surrounding neighborhoods will not be heard by the Foley Planning Commission until May.The plan for …

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Foley subdivision plans worry neighbors


FOLEY — A proposal for a subdivision near Graham Creek that drew protests from residents of surrounding neighborhoods will not be heard by the Foley Planning Commission until May.

The plan for Eagles Landing at Graham Creek had been scheduled for a Planning Commission hearing Wednesday, April 20. The developers asked that the plan be tabled before the meeting began, commission members said.

The developers are asking the commission to approve a proposal for a Planned Unit Development on the site. The plan lists 202 lots on the 127-acre site.

On Monday, April 18, more than 100 residents met with representatives from the developer at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve to discuss the proposal. Residents said they were concerned about the environmental impact of the project and the increased density of adding homes on lots smaller than those in neighboring subdivisions.

One audience member said his property is next to the site and the lots in his subdivision are much larger than those proposed.

"I could use two of those lots to back up against my property and almost all of us on Pinewood Drive have those big lots," he said. "My only gripe is when you leave here and go east, everybody's on estate lots. If y'all were going to put in estate lots, three-quarter acre lots, I wouldn't say anything."

Mason Lake, one of the representatives for the developer at the meeting, said the planned lots are the standard size for current developments in the area. He said the developer has changed the plan to increase the size of the lots and decrease the number of houses.

"We started out with a much denser layout than this," he said. "We tried to lower the density as much as possible."

Resident Ralph Eastburn said the development will hurt the values of homes in existing neighborhoods.

"The valuation of our neighborhoods is not going to be helped by trailer-sized lots in this subdivision," Eastburn said.

Eastburn said he also worried about plans to place the sewage lift station on property near Graham Creek.

"If it's going to be close to the creek area, how are you going to prevent any overspill and how are you going to protect it from getting into the wetlands and the creek? In some of those areas, I think you're going to find that there's a high-water table and it's going to be pretty expensive to put a gravity line in there," Eastburn said.

David Dichiara, an engineer for the development, said the lift station needs to be at the lowest point on the property, which is near the creek.

"As we all know, water does flow downhill and the neighborhood low point is close to Graham Creek, which makes sense," Dichiara said. "What we have to do is follow the city's ordinance for collecting it with gravity to a lift station and pumping it back to the sewer provider, which is Riviera on this project."

Leslie Gahagan, Foley environmental director, said three agencies provide sewer services to different areas near the property. In addition to Riviera, Orange Beach and the private company Baldwin County Sewer Service serve some areas.

In response to comments about bad smells caused by one lift station, she said that station was operated by Orange Beach, which is not serving the new development site.

She said the subdivision would be served by Riviera Utilities and that Riviera lift stations have a good record of operation.

"The city requires gravity fed sewer for new developments, if it's available, so they have to go through Riviera, so it is gravity fed," Gahagan said. "Everybody else is on grinder pumps and lift stations that fail a lot, Riviera's lift stations very rarely fail, and it's usually grease clogs."

Dichiara said the developer is following environmental regulations and will have an environmental impact study done as part of the permitting and approval process.

He said standby generators will be available to install at the lift station if the electrical power fails.

Lake said the developer will also be donating 30 acres on the south side of the property to the city of Foley to be added to the Graham Creek Nature Preserve.