Highlands design standards discussed

By Jessica Overstreet
Staff Writer
Posted 7/25/07

Pedestrian friendly streets roads, trail systems, zoning districts and a village center were among numerous ideas Spanish Fort city officials discussed Tuesday night at a work session held at the Five Rivers Delta Resource Center.

The meeting was …

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Highlands design standards discussed

Posted

Pedestrian friendly streets roads, trail systems, zoning districts and a village center were among numerous ideas Spanish Fort city officials discussed Tuesday night at a work session held at the Five Rivers Delta Resource Center.

The meeting was held to discuss the design standards for The Highlands — a proposed 11,000-acre development located north of Spanish Fort.

International Paper Realty, a subsidiary of International Paper, is looking to develop communities of subdivisions and town centers of commercial properties and retailers on the parcel of land.

The residential development will be centered along Jimmy Faulkner Drive and continue north to a proposed intersection on Hwy. 31 near Bay Minette city limits.

A comparison study was presented Tuesday night by IPR and Hatch Mott MacDonald, the consulting engineering firm working on the project.

The study displayed the differences in restrictions that the current development has and what the city of Spanish Fort requires.

“We want to have all the rules in place first,” said Tony Monk, landscape architect with Hatch Mott MacDonald.

Overall, the master plan for The Highlands is more restrictive with regulations than what the regulations are for the city, Monk said.

The differences are in things like lot size; the total units allowed in a certain area; the setbacks, the distance between the eaves of the building to the next one; and the height, according to Monk.

Within this area, the development is calling for approximately 27,309 single family units; whereas the city’s regulations would allow 36,867 of the units, according to the comparison study.

Traditional neighborhoods will resemble design characteristics in cities such as Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans and Mobile.

The Village Center would be a walkable shopping area much like the Eastern Shore Centre and The Wharf in neighboring Orange Beach and Colonial Pinnacle at Craft Farms in Gulf Shores.

One difference discussed among officials that may create a change was the height difference.

Currently, the city of Spanish Fort allows commercial buildings to be 40 feet in height.

The Highlands would like to allow 45 feet for the heighth.

“This would help create a sense of place; we want the people to be looking at the town center and not somewhere else,” Monk said.

The height change would allow three sufficient floors for commercial use and two good floors for residential buildings, according to Monk.

“You might only be talking about five buildings in the town centers,” Alan Moore, IPR president, said.

Most residential buildings are 35 feet in height, according to Moore.

Officials said they wanted to create a more dense, pedestrian friendly sense of community.

Officials will also incorporate a traffic study and The Highlands annexation into the comprehensive plan.

The development did not list certain standards or requirements on things such as lighting and stormwater drainage because they are willing to work with the city and what is currently established, Monk said.

In compliance with the city, underground utilities will be provided within the development as well. There will be no overhead cross-overs, Monk said.

“We take all the good stuff out of the project and take it to the next,” Moore said.